Athlete Testing: The crucial start to your off-season

Football fans who have enjoyed watching the World Cup, will no doubt also now have an eye on their favourite teams with excitement starting to build as the big European Clubs report back for pre-season.

Many elite players will have had around 6 weeks of leave in order to rest and recover from the vigour’s of long hard seasons, now they will be reporting back to the clubs training grounds and will be expected to be ready to hit the ground running.

So, what do the early days of pre-season look like and how can this be applied to aspiring amateur players?

As you’ll see from following the modern club’s social media, the first thing they do is pre-season testing and the aim here is to find out the players’ fitness levels after their holidays and get data to base their new training programmes on.

Years gone by, early pre-season training likely involved weigh-ins and long runs to see who could and couldn’t hack the pace. Now days it’s a much more scientific process and players are expected to report back for it fit and ready.

Players will be given highly detailed programmes to complete in the off-season, programs designed to let them recover without losing their required levels of fitness.

On the first day back most clubs will do medical screenings – they’ll look at movement testing with the physios, psychometric tests and bloods will be taken.

Then, on the second day they’ll do performance-based testing. That’s on field – VO2 max testing for general fitness, body composition and body fat – and off-field – speed tests, agility and vertical jumps for power. This allows for benchmarks to be established across the group.

The tests give the club an idea of where the players are at fitness wise, what they need to do to condition them and what their max heart rate is. They can see the speeds they’re running at and whether they need to develop them from a strength and power point of view.

Depending on the club, they will use different test, all of them are working towards the same goals though – being able to prescribe programming based on what they’ve done in testing and the accurate view they have established of the players fitness.

At the end of pre-season clubs like more than likely re-run the testing and from this see what progress has been made.

Similarly to the world’s elite clubs, our team at Precision Athletica also starts the process of working with players in much the same fashion. We have combined Sports Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology, Strength & Conditioning and Nutrition in order to be able to give athletes the same complete care that they would get at an elite club.

We run athletes through the most appropriate screening and testing sessions to get a complete and detailed view of where they are at performance and limitation wise, then we build the most appropriate program to help them achieve their goals.

Like at a top European Football Club, if you are serious about your sport and progress in it, don’t see the off-season as a chance to stop and do nothing, see it as a chance to merge science and sport in order to fast track your progress and get a head start on your competition.

If you would like to discuss your goals and potential areas for improvement with our team, please contact our Head of Strength & Conditioning, Nils Hestermann: