NASM PES Chapter 3: Testing in Sports Performance 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Be able to describe the function and components of an assessment of integrated sports performance. 
  • Find the proper methods for determining the readiness of athletes to perform.
  • Describe the use of systematic assessments to find holistic information about athletes.

Overview of Sports Performance Testing

Designing someone’s individualized sports performance program can only be done by understanding the athlete’s needs, goals, and abilities. 

Definition of Sports Performance Testing

Sports performance testing is a systematic approach to solving problems that provides the sports performance professional with the basis for making educated decisions regarding the exercise and acute variables section. 

It should be well understood that sports performance testing is not made to diagnose conditions in the body but instead to look at the status of the person’s functional and structural aspects. 

Information Provided by a Sports Performance Assessment

This assessment will give the sports performance professional a holistic representation of the athlete and offer insight into their past, present, and possibly future. 

This assessment will include the medical history, movement, cardiorespiratory, strength, and power testing. 

A fundamental part of the assessment is in the athlete’s needs, goals, and status. 

Readiness for Activity

Gathering background information regarding athletes can be useful for understanding their physical condition and provides insight into their imbalances.

It is recommended that all athletes be looked at and cleared by a physician before a program for performance enhancement. 

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The physician will give the athlete a document saying that they have been cleared for activity with the fitness professional. This is vital for the start of any program.

The medical history will be a crucial part of the process as it will give us the information we need in the realm of life-threatening chronic disease and other information about the structure and function of the athlete by uncovering things about injuries, surgeries, imbalances, and chronic conditions.

These forms often come in a 7 question yes or no question format. Yes, would mean that the person needs further evaluation by a professional. 

Past injuries

Much research has been done on the influence of injuries in someone’s past on future performance. The prior injuries that will affect the kinetic chain are:

  • Ankle sprains have shown decreases in the amount of neural control in the glute med and max muscles. This then leads to lower control in the lower body and during functional activities. 
  • Injuries involving knee ligaments have been shown to cause decreasing neural control in the stabilizing muscles of the patellofemoral and tibiofemoral joints, likely leading to further injuries. 
  • Low back injuries are very common in society and they have been shown to lead to decreases in neural control for the muscles that stabilize the core and the results are some form of poor stabilization of our spine. This leads to further dysfunctions in the upper and lower body. 
  • Shoulder injuries have been seen to cause alterations in the neural control of the rotator cuff muscles, leading to shoulder instability during functional activity. 
  • Other injuries in the human movement system will be things like repetitive strains, tendonitis, fasciitis, tendinosis, and headaches. 

All of these injuries must be considered when we consider and assess our athletes. 

Muscle imbalances will have become present in some form due to these being present over time. 

Past surgeries

In the same way that injuries should be noted, past surgeries are important here. The surgeries we should be aware of are going to be anything involving these:

  • Foot and ankle
  • Knee
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • C-section
  • Appendectomy

Medications

Some athletes might require some form of medication, which likely will have some small effect on the performance of the individual. The medications to be noted are:

  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Nitrates
  • Diuretics
  • Bronchodilators
  • Vasodilators
  • Antidepressants 

It is really important to study the charts and know the effects that each of these types of medication will have on the heart rate and the blood pressure and any other significant noted effects to be had on the body. 

Assessments

The assessments we choose to perform should be selected based on these four things:

  • Metabolic specificity of the sport and position that is going to be played.
  • The mechanical specificity of the port and the position to be played.
  • The level or condition of the athlete.
  • The experience and the age that the athlete is at. 

Physiological Assessments

Physiological assessments will give us information about the athlete’s status based on their overall health. Regular assessment can be beneficial for the athlete. As we list the various tests, study their diagrams and procedures so that you know how to perform them properly and why we use them.

Resting heart rate

This will be either taken with a heart rate monitor or using the radial or carotid pulse. And we use a timer and a special technique to assess this. 

Blood pressure

This is going to consist of the systolic and diastolic readings. The systolic reading will be the top number, and the diastolic reading will be the bottom number. We use a sphygmomanometer for this. 

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Body Composition

The information about an athlete’s body composition will measure the athlete’s starting point and then, eventually, where the program takes them. 

Body fat measurements

It will be important to find the body fat levels of the client before starting and to see where they need to go and what they need to do for their goals. 

This can be looked at in many ways; the most common will be with skinfold calipers, bioelectrical impedance, underwater weighing, whole body plethysmography, and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. The first two of these will be way more common than the other more costly procedures, but when dealing with athletes, they can be used. 

Circumference measurements

This is another way to look at the composition of the body. This measures specific parts of the body, either where they would like to change by losing weight or by gaining weight, and it is typically done at seven sites. 

These common sites are:

  • The neck
  • Chest
  • Waist
  • Hip
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Biceps

When doing these, we usually stick to one side or both sides to see the changes better, 

Postural Assessments

The production of movement and the proper function of the kinetic chain is reliant on the optimal posture being attained.

Proper posture will lead to proper form and the body will function in the best possible way. 

Any deviation from this optimal level will affect other body areas because the human movement system is interdependent. 

Posture can be viewed as static, as it most often is, or as dynamic, where the body changes its support base. 

Structural efficiency is the benefit of having a good posture to overcome forces in the best way possible. 

Without the proper alignments of the body parts, we set up key positions for alterations to be made in movement patterns, which will inevitably lead to some form of overuse injuries in the future. 

These alterations result from the muscle imbalances and unusual stresses we find occurring. 

Make sure to go through the assessments for posture and know the various positions of the checkpoints in the body that we specifically look for. The static alignments will usually feature looking at the body in a posterior and a lateral view to find the malalignments. 

Transitional and dynamic postural assessments are the way to assess the action functional status of the athlete due to the importance of posture in all movements we go through. We will look at these five kinetic checkpoints specific to the dynamic and transitional assessments of posture. 

  • The feet
  • Knees
  • LPHC
  • Shoulders
  • Head

The traditional postural assessments that you should go through and learn the procedures and the purposes for will be the overhead squat, the single leg squat, the pushing assessment, and the pulling assessment. It is important to know the common compensations we will see at these checkpoints we mentioned. 

The dynamic posture assessments to know the procedures and the purpose will be the landing error scoring system. 

Performance assessments can be used to assess the overall performance of athletes. 

These assessments measure stability, strength, power, speed, agility, quickness, and conditioning. 

Core stability assessments for you to know the procedure and the movements and any compensation information will be the likes of the double leg lowering test, Sorensen erector spinae test, single leg star balance excursion test, and the Davies test. 

For strength assessments, we have any resistance exercise actually being able to represent this part. 

We commonly will use the bench press test, the squat, and of course pull ups and push-ups. 

For power assessments, we will use the likes of the power clean, rotation medicine ball throw, overhead medicine ball throw, standing soccer throw, double leg vertical jump, single leg vertical hop, double leg horizontal long jump, single leg horizontal hop, and the shark skill test. 

The speed and quickness, and agility assessments that we should thoroughly know are the 10 yard sprint, 20 yard sprint, 30 yard sprint, 40 yard sprint, the lower extremity functional test, the 5 – 10 – 5 tests, and the many variations of these that focus on varying forms of agility and speed changes. 

Our metabolic assessments will include the tests like the 300 yard shuttle, 20 meter multistage shuttle, and the one mile run. 

Again, make sure to know these procedures and the pictures shown so you can easily identify what test is what. 

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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