In the academic environment, students revel in the fact that they can let their responsibilities go during their quarterly breaks. However, the student-athlete isn’t as fortunate because they are responsible for keeping their body in shape despite being away from the competition.
All students ease into the quarter with at least a couple lectures before their first exams, but athletes are put to the test right away. They return back to their respective playing grounds, athletes are asked to pass a rigorous fitness test.
Each sport has a different test, evaluating different aspects of fitness. They also differ in the way each coach conducts the assessment. Some tests are designed to be a guideline, some a standard and others a requirement. A standard is stricter than a guideline.
Coaches have a difficult decision to make when determining the weight of each fitness test. It’s difficult to sit someone aside because of fitness, when their skill and intelligence of the sport makes up for that loss.
“We don’t like to do anything formal like that,” soccer head coach Paul Holocher said of the requirements. “But we just want them to understand that we strive for year-round fitness.”
Junior soccer player Josh Didion echoed his coach’s understanding that fitness is just a small part of what makes a good player.
“Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses,” Didion said. “But altogether it’s not about just your fitness. It’s about your skill.”
On the other side of the coin, mapping out specific expectations and sticking to those numbers provides a level of seriousness about the test, senior soccer player Julianne Grinstead said.
The point of the test is not only to keep the players in shape, but make sure they maintain discipline and avoid susceptibility to injury.
“It gives people motivation when you’re not at school and when you’re going home to stay in shape,” Grinstead said. “If people come back from breaks and they’re not in shape and everybody’s on different levels it makes it real hard to play and work together as a team.”
Just like a fitness test isn’t the sole factor in determining a good player, being fit alone won’t get a person through the test. A lot of it is determined by the mental strength of a test subject, Didion and Grinstead said.
“Some people are more fit than they think they are, but mentally they’re weak,” Didion explained. “And some the opposite.
“You push yourself past to a point that you don’t think that you can go,” Grinstead said.
The Beep Test is one of the most popular tests used to assess fitness levels. The women’s basketball team uses it, but has different requirements for each position.
During the test, players run 40 yards back-and-forth. A person makes it to the next level if they touch the line before a beep sounds. With each level, the time increment allowed to make it back across decreases.
For the basketball team, guards are required to make 12 levels, swing players are required to make 11, and post players need 10. The men’s soccer team has a similar version.
The difference between a men’s fitness test and a women’s fitness test is slim, but there is a perception that one is more demanding than the other.
Grinstead thinks they are the similar, but said that men are naturally in better shape. So, they have a more demanding test. The men’s team is asked to finish their two-mile run 30 seconds faster than the women.
“Men can maybe take the aggressive hardships on the body,” Didion explained. “You know, running the two miles is really hard on you’re legs.”
However, it’s equally difficult for both parties.
“They’re kind of different, but we all have to pass them,” Grinstead said.