By James Walker, CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer
In this day and age of technology (cell phones, ipods, laptops, aps, internet, google, etc) that makes gathering information very accessible it’s amazing that so much incorrect and ignorant information permeates the airwaves, internet, and newsprint spheres. And this comes from journalist or in this case sports journalists who we used to rely on for accurate information! Especially since correct and reliable information is only a phone call or keystroke away.
There are countless university exercise science professors and sports-performance-strength coaches, all eagerly ready to be interviewed by some famous sports journalist concerning Albert Haynesworth’s struggle in the 300-yard shuttle. Why can’t he pass it or how should he have prepared in order to pass the easy or hard, depending on the commentator, 300 yd-shuttle test. “He needs more cardio”, “why didn’t his trainer prepare him”, “why didn’t he lose weight”, oh yeah he did lose weight, about 35 lb, “so why didn’t he pass”, or “just because he lost weight doesn’t mean he’s in football shape”, right?
I know all of my former professors, strength coaches, and exercise specialist who have mentored me the past 30 years cringe every time they hear, read, or see the responses from all of the media experts.
The 300-yard shuttle run consists of sprinting 25-yards down and back six times touching the line with the foot in order to complete 300 yards total distance. The times may range from 56 seconds for football receivers and defensive backs to 73 seconds for offensive and defensive linemen. After completion the participant rests 3-5 minutes (3 & ½ for the NFL Washington Redskins) then repeats the test a second time. The times can then be averaged or compared to determine the athlete’s fitness level.
The purpose of the 300-yard shuttle run is to test maximal anaerobic-sprint endurance and/or conditioning. In order to attain a reliable score the participant must sprint at maximum effort and not pace themselves. The general testing populations are sports that involve anaerobic-sprint endurance like-.basketball, hockey, rugby, and soccer.
Now I must confess that when I had to take Testing and Measurement and Statistics decades ago I thought I’d never use any of it but I’ve consistently relied on and utilized the information over and over, especially administering performance assessments and analyzing training data.
All test must be valid, reliable, and objective, all interrelated values and that the measurement must measure the component that it supposed to measure; measure the component consistently; and result in similar scores regardless of the administer.
Let’s look at a quick review of those terms valid, reliable, and objective.
Test validity refers to the degree to which the test measures a specific component that it is intended to measure. The test should contain tasks that reflect those specific components to be measured or it’s content validity.
Test reliability refers to the degree to which the test yields consistent and stable scores over repeated trials and time. Reliability depends upon how strict the test is conducted and how motivated the participant is to perform the test.
Test objectivity refers to the degree to which the test can be measured repeatedly and reliably by various testers with minimum subjectivity.
So in spite of how you may feel about Albert and his conditioning it’s amazing that this test is used to test football players, yet alone a 300 lb lineman. Considering that the average play last between 4-5 seconds, why would you test something that last 50-70 seconds? Does this sound valid, reliable, or objective?
First of all, 4-5 seconds of maximal effort utilize absolute strength, power, and speed, all anaerobic bio-components that involve IIB fast-twitch muscle fibers and alactic-glycolytic energy systems.
Secondly, 56-73 seconds of maximal effort (actually slightly sub-maximal) utilize strength and speed endurance that involves IIA fast-twitch muscle fibers and lactic-glycolytic energy systems. The two are very different in their respective functions and actions.
Thirdly, there is another sub-maximal speed endurance IIA fiber that utilizes a glycolytic-oxidative energy system.
Fourthly, none of these are aerobic which starts to kick in after several minutes of continuous sub-maximal effort that involve slow–twitch IA muscle fibers and primarily an oxidative energy system.
In the exercise science community it really doesn’t make since. So when these experts see test such as the 300-yard shuttle or parts of the NFL combine test they cringe, shake their heads, and wonder if any of them ever picks up an exercise science journal or text.
In summary the test is not a very good indicator of anaerobic alactic power required for football. It does not make sense to any knowledgeable exercise scientist. A better test for football conditioning would involve maximal efforts of 4-5 second that are repeated numerous times with 15-30 seconds of recovery to simulate the huddle. Watch the game, doesn’t that make more since?
‘Train Safe, Smart, & Results Driven’