Assessing cardiorespiratory fitness of soccer players: is test specificity the issue? A review

Monèm Jemni , Mohammad Shoaib Prince, Julien Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


It is important that players and coaches have access to objective information on soccer players physical status for selection and training purposes. Physiological tests can provide this information. Physiological testing in laboratories and field settings are very common, but both methods have been questioned because of their specificity and accuracy respectively. Currently, football players have their direct aerobic fitness assessed in laboratories using treadmills or cycle ergometers, whilst indirect measures (using estimation of aerobic performance) are performed in the field, typically comprising multiple shuttle runs back and forth over a set distance. However, running on a treadmill and cycling are not specific exercises for performance measures related to football. Although the player runs during training and games, running is more appropriate for runners to be used for testing and cycling for cyclists. Footballers integrate many technical skills and multi directional running during a game. The composition of the type of running observed also include different intensities and durations. The laboratory based protocols lack specific validity as they do not include movement patterns and intermittent activity observed in football match situations, and have been shown to lack sensitivity. The established field-based tests are more specific to football than laboratory protocols as they usually include an intermittent element, yet lack accuracy as they estimate aerobic capacity based on variables such as test level achieved. Despite the technological revolution and developments in testing protocols, there is still no single test that can be considered entirely specific to football, that include all the physiological complexities of the game. Testing for football should include a comprehensive data collection approach. This approach should comprise of, fitness testing, physiological data, as well as anthropometric and skill performance measures. These data sets would provide the player and coach with individual performance measures that are specific, and would enhance the player’s physiological potential for performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2018


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