Physiological Testing or Performance Testing??

January 15, 2009

Is physiological data going to tell me how good they are at playing soccer??

Is physiological data going to tell me how good they are at playing soccer??

Yesterday I had my lecture for a class that I’m taking called Elite Athlete Assessment and Training (or soemthing like that). At the beginning of the week we had an assignment due in which we had to design an assessment protocol for an athlete in a sport of our choice. Then in lecture yesterday, thats what we learned about from the prof: assessments.

One thing became clear towards the end of the lecture — an emphasis on the importance of using physiological testing and the resulting data. (Also, the prof wasn’t fond of body composition testing for elite athletes — not sure whether I agree or disagree with that yet tho…)

Anyways, why does it matter what a person’s VO2max is?? Now some sports this can be important (eg. endurance cycling, marathon running), but for sports that are anaerobic in nature, why is there such an emphasis on knowing how well the body can use oxygen??

Anyways, in my assignment I didn’t put any physiological testing in I’m pretty sure, so we’ll see how that goes.

The point I’m trying to make is just what’s up with the disconnect between what is taught is universities (obviously not 100% of the case) and what is done in successful gyms??



4 Responses to “Physiological Testing or Performance Testing??”

  1. Patrick Says:

    Hey Chris,

    Great post! It got me thinking about the disconnect between the academic world and the real world.

    University is a very political environment. Imagine the fallout if a prof made a statement “that being over 10% body fat is fat”? It would make the school news paper because someone with a voice would take offence to it. Charles Poliquin says these types of things all the time and doesn’t get much heat for it because he’s in private business and doesn’t have to keep the masses happy.

    MVO2 testing is pointless for almost every explosive athlete and there is a negative correlation between MVO2 max and vertical jump heights – if anything, this test should be used as a negative predictor of performance in explosive type sports. But many labs have the equipment, which is expensive and pretty cool, so profs advocate for using it. From my own experience, when I train to improve MVO2, my squat numbers go down, I feel less powerful, my ability to ride up steep hills decreases and I find passing a lot more difficult; but I can ride for hours and hours.

    Personally I think penta jumps are a better predictor of athletic performance and ability than sophisticated machines. But the penta jump is tough for those who are not athletic or in good shape.

    My feeling is that it comes down to politics. A professor who draws a lot of fire from vocal groups is less likely to get funding and keep their job than the one who doesn’t rock the boat.

    If you get the chance, go to your profs office hours and ask them why they recommend MVO2 testing for athletes who need explosive strength for 2-5 second bursts. They’ll probably give you a very candid answer so long as you keep it off the record.


  2. Chris Brown Says:

    Thats a great suggestion there, I think I’ll go and do that during her office hours.

    Your paragraph there about penta jumps for people who are athletic/in-shape vs. not is interesting. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit since this lecture and the assignment we had to do on assessments. Basically I’ve come to realize that any performance assessment I do gives me more information than just the biomotor quality I’m assessing. In the example of the penta jump, sure its going to tell me if the person has good lower body power and how their power endurance (for lack fo a better term) is, but I’m also assessing the actual skill performance — how was their force absorbtion, did their knees cave in, etc. The reason I’m bringing this up is just that its another thing that isn’t taught in academic settings (or certification courses).

    It might have been a bit off-topic, but it just got me thinkin.

  3. Patrick Says:

    When it gets right down to it a good assessment give a very complete picture of an athletes abilities.

    There’s the quantitative story – Bill can jump 28 inches, Sally can deadlift 235 lbs – and there’s the qualitative story – Bill’s left knee scopes when he’s doing the static vertical jump test so his VMO may not be firing correctly, Sally’s tail tucks under at the bottom of her deadlifts so her hamstrings may be tight.

    The quantitative results are a measure of the impact from any interventions based on the qualitative assessment.

    I’m thinking it’s missing for the academic setting because experience is the only way to improve your quantitative assessment skills. Lets face it, any one can use a tape measure to figure out how far someone jumped, but how long does it take someone to learn how to see the hips not floating back before a squat begins? It can take years to develop the ability to see a movement. This is one of the cool things about working with an experienced coach; they are able to see things that you don’t even know could exist. They get huge improvements because of their ability to qualitatively assess someone during a quantitative trials.

    I may be wrong but I think Rudolf Laban and movement education touch on qualitative assessment.

  4. Chris Brown Says:

    Good point. I’m not too sure that classes I’ve had have touched on qualitative assessment however there is a lot of emphasis on kinesthetic awareness in the movement-based courses, which is kind of similar.

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