The Chilliwack Chiefs are done for the season, but the off-season is no time to rest for the junior A players. In his second bi-weekly column, Chiefs assistant coach and Xceed Training owner/operator Paul Nicolls talks about why teams put their players through batteries of tests at the start of a new season.
Fitness tests allow coaches to identify the physical strengths and weaknesses in their athletes, and act as a benchmark upon which a suitable training program can be developed. For that reason, just about all sports teams begin their pre-season training camps with some sort of fitness testing.
Where the Chilliwack Chiefs are concerned, we have expectations about what a player does during the off-season, and fitness testing is a great indicator for us to see how well the players have prepared themselves for the upcoming season.
We are looking for players who have dedicated themselves to off-season workouts, and the initial fitness assessment we do at training camp will allow us to put together a fitness plan for the upcoming season that will help improve their fitness levels further.
While talent evaluation goes well beyond fitness, results of testing can also be a useful tool when determining the athletic ability of a player and his commitment to training.
Players can use the results to assist in setting goals, and use the results as motivation whenever they work out.
Here are a few of the tests we use.
Handgrip Strength Test (topendsports.com/testing/tests/handgrip.htm)
Using a handgrip dynamometer, this test measures the maximum isometric strength of the hand and forearm muscles. Passing and shooting rely heavily on this strength. Plus, people with strong hands and forearms often tend to be strong in general.
Bench Press Beep Test (topendsports.com/testing/tests/bench-press-beep.htm)
When a Chiefs defenceman has to handle a big forward along the boards, upper body strength is essential. This test measures it as athletes perform as many repetitions as possible at a set weight (135 pounds) and cadence (metronome rate of 25 per minute). The National Hockey League uses this test at their pre-draft combine.
Curl Up Beep Test (topendsports.com/testing/tests/curl-up-beep.htm
This one tests core muscle strength and endurance as players do sit-ups at a rate of 25 per minute. Core strength affects almost everything a hockey player does, but most importantly skating.
Push-Up Beep Test (topendsports.com/testing/tests/pushup-beep.htm)
This test measures chest muscle strength and endurance as players do a maximum of 25 push-ups per minute.
Standing Long Jump Test (topendsports.com/testing/tests/longjump.htm)
A test of leg power with obvious correlations to hockey (skating), players stand at a take-off line and jump, using arm swing and a knee bend to gain forward momentum. The National Football League uses this test at their annual combine in Indianapolis.
Whatever level you perform at, please do not overlook the importance and necessity of fitness testing.
If you take the time to plan your training, take one afternoon (or morning) to complete a battery of fitness tests and use them as a tool for goal-setting and motivation.