I scratch my head when I read, experience and witness school fitness testing by university interns and sport science students in Australia, a country that leads the way in this space globally.
It’s not that I distrust the student or the university however it is 100% proven that untrained test staff provide unreliable testing and therefore data.
If it takes years to perfect the ability to practice coaching, conditioning, sciences and intimate areas for personal development then why is it ok to use younger school students and club players, at the moment of significant change, as guinea pigs for other students?
My business, Global Performance Testing, takes students from colleges and universities through controlled learning on the purpose, delivery and interpretation of reliable testing on people before we let them loose on actual subjects. The reason for this is to ensure a) quality of reliability b) validity of the testing purpose and c) quality of data for a purposeful outcome. There is no “testing for testing sake”.
It may not seem that unreasonable to use school kids as experience for more mature students however there is plenty of evidence that the simple environment of fitness and performance testing has impacts socially and psychologically on them so what is the actual point? Are we happy to use an intern to teach our kids maths?
Situations that we always experience with interns:
Measurement of protocols (often imperial tests in metric), use of invalid protocols, different instructions given by each intern, different rotation of tests for the subjects, motivation or coaching by the intern (normally completing a training or conditioning degree), preferential treatment to more capable athletes, yelling of scores and results, inaccurate scoring or ineligible writing, basic attention to detail when delivering a protocol (foot on the line), mis-interpretation of procedures, increased interest in technology over reliability of the test moment, on-the-fly changes to the test environment to suit the learning….and the list goes on.
FACT – Performing a 20m acceleration from 50cm behind the start line when using a laser timing system creates a 9 percent advantage over the first 5m.
We have provided many test events designed specifically for students learning sport and exercise science, coaching and training. By making them the athlete/subject with testers that are training and qualified, they get a true understanding of validity, consistency and reliability in practice.
Think of the poor school kid that is below the 50% mark and shows signs of inability in general fitness. How do you think they feel when an intern, not much older than them, yells out a 5.2 second 20m acceleration where the rest of the class were in the 3 seconds? What about the kids who drop out of the YoYo or Beep Test at early stages and are just ignored or their scores are remarked upon however the athletic kid gets all the support, verbal motivation and encouragement possible to get them the highest score. Even the kid that is very active, maybe over active, but has difficulty in interpreting instruction of an agility test…should they be subject to feeling insecure and incapable due to inexperienced test staff?
Post-testing we have an intern who has enjoyed their experience and likely learned a few lessons in what not to do next time. In the meantime, we have a cohort of school kids who have been subject to a barrage of testing that could have been done with a purpose of discovering actual weaknesses for development or talent. The truth is that the data is invalid. On the rare occasion where the data gets to the school teacher, subject or parent it is useless BUT it is taken as true and reliable with serious decisions on team selection, conditioning and training made off the back of this golden information. More often than not, we discover that the school rarely sees the data and if it does, it is a basic excel sheet of names and numbers. The parent most definitely does not get access and no-one has the experience to interpret what it all means. There is no point comparing it to normative data because it is unreliable so my question remains…what is the point?
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