Before the Testing Session
Ensure that a screening protocol has been undertaken by the participant, and that they have been medically screened, and are fit to undertake the physical exertion specific to the fitness testing protocol. Ensure that all documents related to the screening process are signed by the participant, and are kept on file.
2. Informed Consent:
Inform the participant of the requirements of the fitness testing protocol. Ensure that they are aware of ALL the risks associated with each specific test, and that they are aware of the necessity of performing each test in the protocol. It is advised that the participant all sign a “legally-binding” informed consent document, which details all the specific risks and processes involved in the testing protocol. This document will also need to be kept on file. (Please see the informed consent document in the P.O.E.).
Include the following aspects in an informed consent:
• Purpose and explanation of each test
• Possible Risks and discomforts
• Responsibilities of the participant
• Benefits to be expected
• Use of test data
• Freedom of Consent
3. Participant Instructions:
Once the participant has signed the informed consent, it is still important that they are given adequate instructions related to their participation in the testing session. These instructions may be given verbally, but it is recommended that the participant also be given a written set of instructions. These instructions should include the following:
• Dietary preparation, I.e. food and fluid consumption prior to, during and after the testing session.
• Avoiding intense exercise on the day of the testing session
• Clothing to be worn on the day of the testing session
• In the case of an emergency, to have someone accompany them should they be fatigued following the test.
4. Designing a Testing Protocol
Setting up a Testing Protocol
Each time a testing protocol is set up; the same considerations need to be made.
Aim of Battery
What is the point of the test battery? What information is it aimed at getting? This should go hand-in-hand with the goals that have been set, as well as with the program that is being drawn up, to achieve these goals. The main focus of the testing battery will be what goals will need to be monitored. A secondary focus could be related aspects that will be improved, as the goals are striven towards.
Two main considerations are needed, when deciding what tests will be used. First, are the tests going to glean the information the protocol is looking for? Tests must be chosen that will give this information as accurately, and easily, as possible. And, second, the testing environment must allow for the test to be correctly performed. Many exercise tests can very easily be performed in a gym environment, but, not all of them. So, ensure all requirements for the tests are available, including any equipment needed, and the appropriate amount of space.
It is also important to have a good knowledge of how to administer the tests correctly. The right test can give a false result, if not performed correctly. So, when selecting tests, be sure to choose ones that can be accurately administered.
Recording and Storing Results
Performing tests becomes incredibly pointless, if the results of these tests are not recorded. Seeing as that testing is done to gain information, keeping this information is paramount. A simple way of doing this is to simply print out the test protocol, including somewhere to record the results of each test, on it. This form can then easily be stored in a file, set up for the participant. All screening, testing, and programming can be kept in the same file. This ensures ease of access for referring back to any of this information. This will not only be useful for re-testing, monitoring of goals, and reflecting on programs for progress purposes, but will make them easily available in the event of needing a portfolio of evidence should a case of negligence ever arise.
So, if we were to look at an example of a testing protocol, these steps would come together as such:
Let’s take a club volleyball player, as our example. The participant wishes to not only test his/her fitness levels, but also look to improve where possible. When setting up the battery of tests, we go through each aspect of fitness, and select tests appropriate for the activity. As we saw above, in the section of test examples, the ordering of the tests is mostly dependent on exertion for the tests. In other words, a test which uses less physical exertion should be done earlier in the battery, saving as much energy as possible for the more strenuous tests, done towards the end of the battery.
As such, getting participants details, as well as anthropometrics, uses the least effort, and is done first:
Next, we would look to do flexibility tests, as these also use very little energy. For volleyball, hip and lower back flexibility is important. So, we can include the Modified Sit-and-Reach test, for this. Shoulder flexibility is also important. For this example, we have included goniometer measurements of the active range of motion for shoulder flexion, internal rotation, and external rotation, as they are relevant for the overhead movements, as well as other striking movements in volleyball:
This is followed by muscle endurance. While this uses a fair amount of energy, overall, the recovery is relatively brief, as the muscle contractions are not as powerful. Since volleyball uses upper body, lower body, as well as combination movements, tests have been included for all of these body parts:
Next, we could bring in the strength tests we have selected. Once again, we have selected tests for upper body, as well as lower body strength:
One of the aspects of volleyball which is highly important is explosive vertical ability. Fortunately, we have a test tailored specifically for this aspect. And, since testing explosive strength is what would follow, this is where this test would fit into the battery:
Another ability which is of importance is how quickly a player can get around the court. This is measured through agility testing:
Finally, we come to the test of aerobic capacity, which is generally left for last, in most protocols, as the test will often deplete energy reserves, and cause false results for some other tests. Also, maximal contractions, performed in earlier tests have far less impact on these tests. For volleyball, the “Bleep” test is a better option, as it more closely mimics the back-and-forth nature of the sport than running on a track might.
And, when we combine all of these aspects, we arrive at our complete battery, having set up our protocol:
Norms are collections of results, used to make comparisons to the general population. Almost all tests that can be performed will have a set of norms to go with them. These can be used to see how participants of exercise programs, who have undergone testing, compare to the general population. So, not only can testing be used to track an individual’s progress, when compared to his or her self; it can also be used to rank them on a scale of how well they match up to other people.
5. Setting up for the Testing Session:
Immediately prior to the testing session, ensure the following:
• All the equipment required is available, and in good working order
• The assessment room is booked, and that the assessment area is private and secure.
• Ensure that other staff members are informed of the testing session, and aware that certain equipment will be used, and certain areas of the facility will be utilized.
• Ensure that all forms are printed and neatly filed.