In 2005 we created a fitness test for soccer known as the CAP Test or CAP Soccer Specific Interval Test, that has now transcended the sport of soccer and has proven to be a great test for many team sports. We started playing around with new fitness tests after talking to dozens of coaches who gave us their opinion on what might be lacking in typical tests of fitness. Here were a few of their responses:
- Tests don’t mimic the movements, intensities, speeds and recovery times of sport
- Tests are inconvenient (time consuming, needed additional equipment or facilities like treadmills, electronic timers, running tracks or audio equipment)
In most speed/endurance, team sports (soccer, basketball, etc.) players are required to perform numerous runs of 10 to 25 yds (usually lumped into chunks) followed by a brief rest (ball out of bounds, free throw, etc.). We liked the progressive structure of the already accepted beep test or Yo-Yo test, but wanted to include a brief rest that was similar to sport.
Here is the heart rate graph of a player in an actual game (left) compared to the same player in our test (right). As you can see the undulations in intensity of the game are mimicked in the test graph, and the player peaked out at the same level they peak out in games. This test also showed statistical significance when compared to 20yd dash, 20yd shuttle, vertical jump and beep test scores, whereas the beep test was just significant to itself.
We are now referring to this test as the F.I.T. Test or (Fitness Interval Test) and here is how it is structured:
- Players are placed on a line (could be the baseline in basketball or the mid-field line in soccer). At the first level, the coach gives a go call and starts the stopwatch. The players have 30 seconds to jog/run down 10 yds and back 2x and then down 25 yds and back 1x. At the 30 second time interval, the players will repeat this pattern of runs a second time (again given 30 seconds to complete the interval pattern). This is the first level (also referred to as the 30 second level).
- After a 30 second rest period, the players will again perform 2 intervals of the down 10 yds and back twice and down 25 yds and back once), but this time they have to complete it in 29 seconds (1 second quicker than the first level). This is level 2 or the 29 second level.
- This pattern repeats itself (2 interval runs of down 10 and back twice, and down 25 yds and back once followed by a 30 second rest after every 2 runs), but decreases in time by 1 second each set (2 runs).
A player is considered out, when they are unable to complete the pattern in the desired time. For instance, if you are on the 22 second level and a player fails to complete the second set of down 10 yds and back twice and down 25 yds and back once, they would be considered out at the 22-2 level (22 second interval, 2nd run) and this would be their score – 22-2.
This has worked so well that we now have hundreds of coaches in over 30 countries using the test. It started out as a soccer test, but has recently gained popularity in the basketball community as well. Here is a diagram of how you would use the test in each of the sports.