Fitnesswise: The many benefits of fitness testing

Fitness testing doesn’t just help athletes achieve their fitness goals. It could be a useful tool in making India a global power in sport.

Handy tool: Fitness test is sport specific and can measure fitness levels of athletes after the off-season, or after injury or illness.

Handy tool: Fitness test is sport specific and can measure fitness levels of athletes after the off-season, or after injury or illness. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fitness testing doesn’t just help athletes achieve their fitness goals. It could be a useful tool in making India a global power in sport.

Why do we need fitness testing? Fitness tests highlight athletes’ fitness-related strengths and weaknesses and influence training programmes. In doing so, they help athletes achieve their fitness goals.

These tests are useful in measuring fitness levels of athletes after the off-season, or after injury or illness. They help identify talent and motivate players and support staff.

The following are some of the valuable attributes of fitness testing:

SPECIFICITY: Fitness tests must assess an individual’s fitness for the activity or sport involved.

VALIDITY: Fitness tests must measure the component of fitness that they are supposed to master.

OBJECTIVITY: A test that is objective will produce the same result for the same individual regardless of the tester or any other technician administering it.

RELIABILITY: A reliable test produces the same results if repeated again.

Internal and external variables can affect the outcome of fitness tests. Repeated testing minimises the effect of these variables and ensures that the conditions and circumstances are close to the previous testing processes.

Factors that can affect testing results are: time of the day, weather conditions, environment, assessors, accuracy of measurement, equipment used, test protocol, time since athletes’ last meal, emotional level of athletes on the day of testing, athletes’ hydration status before testing, the medical condition of the athletes, injury, and medication.

Data collated for testing can be used in case studies to determine various physiological and psychological parameters for Indian athletes. For sporting disciplines in which periodic testing is done regularly, players are found who are ready to play throughout the season without serious injuries.

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Bring athletes closer to fans

The idea of fitness testing may seem outlandish to Indians. Nevertheless, outlining the concept and discussing it will be healthy. It will be a great idea to bring in a draft system model (as in the NBA and NFL) to India and to see our athletes undergo testing with full vigour and vitality.

It can generate a lot of interest in the media for the promotion of sport, help bring athletes closer to the fans, and improve the fitness of the people of our country. Engaging fans through social media is a powerful tool in the development of sport in our country. To see sporting heroes in action can generate huge interest in sport among children and parents.

There are several advantages to providing live coverage of fitness tests:

- Children and budding athletes can see their heroes in action and not doctored images and videos on social media.

- The level of fitness of each athlete can be clearly compared to that of other players.

- It can help promote sport.

- Sports products and other related ecosystems can buy into the space.

- It can motivate young athletes and give them the right information needed in the development of sports science.

- It can create a huge shift in fitness awareness among people.

- It can standardise sports and selection processes specific to each sport and skill.

- Tactical and technical tests specific to each sport can promote knowledge and awareness in sporting and fitness ecosystems.

- Both physiological and psychological parameters can be tested in tandem to check the athletes’ mental and physical space.

- It is viable economically for media partners to sponsor talented sportspersons from any part of the country.

- It can set up a professional standard for fitness testing.

- The professionalism would be glaringly obvious for the players who do well.

- Comparison of players from one sport with another can be negated once a true picture emerges for each sport.

- Accountability of all the support staff involved with the athlete could be brought into the system.

- It can open up the possibility of new ventures and verticals for sporting ecosystems.

- Seeing is believing for many; if reality is shown to the people, the declared or hyped fitness levels of athletes could be put to the test.

- It sets a foolproof fitness system for the future.

- It brings in more professionals into the system to organise the event and execute it to perfection.

Sports associations and governing authorities have to ultimately decide whether or not to adopt fitness testing .It could be a useful tool in making India a global power in sport. It just needs a reality check at every stage to see whether we are on the right track.

And, as actor and writer Will Rogers has pointed out, we may be on the right path, but we would be run over if we just sit there.

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