Performance and fitness testing is fast becoming a common component of sports coaching and development, whether you are setting benchmarks, identifying areas of weakness for development or more commonly talent identification in sporting codes.
Understanding reliability, validity and consistency in testing is essential for you to be acknowledged as a professional in today’s world of data analytics and use of data for coaching and development outcomes anywhere in the world.
Without reliability the testing is useless, the environment of testing is inconsistent with untrained interns or students performing the physical testing and no formal flow or control of the environment creating a combination of errors in inter and intra trial and inter and intra tester reliability.
Additionally, protocols are often misinterpreted and results compared to nonidentical processes. Examples include starting on or behind the line in acceleration tests, conversion of test distances between imperial and metric and testing on different surfaces for different cohorts of athletes.
In order to have global normative data to compare development or talent reliably, the industry needs to agree and adhere to common objectives including which protocols to use, how to perform them, what environments are considered valid or acceptable and how we communicate deviation and error. All of these considerations are evaluated in professional and elite fitness testing laboratories and must be strongly educated to sub-elite, development and participation field testing service providers.
Testing must have a purpose and not be performed for the sake of it. Identifying the reason for the testing will create four further questions that must also be considered before going ahead with an event:
- Why test?
- What are you testing?
- Who are you testing?
- Which test will you choose?
Once we have answers to questions we can then design and participate in a valid test event.
Create a great testing environment – Validity + Consistent Environment = Reliability