Testing For Track and Field Performance
Performance trials are an important coaching tool in track and field. Athletes can judge training progress and get an objective measure of where they stand. The best way to test the athlete’s event readiness is to have performance trials.
Track and field is a performance-based sport. Performance trials can determine roster spots, travel squads, and what track and field athletes will compete in.
Some athletes might even change events depending on the results of the testing.
Former high school triple jumper Becca Franklin. Becca holds the school record in the hammer at the University of Iowa. She never threw any of the throwing events until college but had good explosive power performance indicators during the early season testing her freshman year.
Four testing systems are reviewed for track and field coaches:
- Team rankings
- Predict future performance
- Fitness levels and training progress
- Explosive power across events
Types of Performance Trials
Legendary Coach Joe Newton from York High School in Illinois will have a time trial the first day of cross country practice and pass out t-shirts to his best runners. He keeps records on the 3 mile race on the same course; the athletes can compare their performance against decades of the top high school runners from York High School.
In the throwing events, Coach Cappos uses his practice meets in the fall with different weight implements to judge future performance. “Typically, if I have a hammer thrower breaking 200’ in the fall with 14.5 pound hammer, that thrower will throw over 200’ in the peak of the season in late spring with the 16 pound hammer.
Long sprinters can use a time trial of 45 seconds. The runner is timed by distance completed in the 45 second time period. This type of testing can be used before and after a training block to determine improvement.
Other strategies used for speed and power athletes include 30 meter sprint, standing long jump, 3 double leg jumps and overhead shot throw. This test known as the Max Jones Test is named after British Coach Max Jones. These four tests have been used by Olympic Champions as well as track and field athletes just learning the sport. It is a good measure of explosive power and is a fun way to compete against other athletes on the team across event areas.
Best Practices For Testing Procedures
- Find testing protocol that will determine an important part of being successful
- Pre test and post test the performance trial
- Review the significance of the test to the participants
Testing needs to be competitive, fun, measured, and reviewed.