Each sport has its own set of tools for evaluating athletes. This can range from just a simple measurement of anthropometry, or strength movements like the 225 bench test or a speed test like the 60 yard sprint. The unfortunate reality is that these tests are indicators for the coaches to see if the athlete has qualities that would lead them to being proficient at playing the sport. However, most, if not all, of these tests for field and court sports have little or nothing to do with the skill of the athlete inside the sporting event. Unfortunately, we have to “play the game” of being great at these tests because they help us get noticed. Baseball players rarely, if ever, have to run 60 yards in a single play, and if they do ever have to run 60 yards in a single play, it definitely wont be in a straight line. Therefore, how could it be an indicator of potential baseball performance? The 225 bench test in football is by definition, a strength endurance test. However, the sport is really based on horizontal power which has little to do with upper body endurance. Do you see where I’m going here?
Regardless of the reality, you still have to do the test. So now what?
To be better at your sport you need to practice your sport to improve the skill of it, just like anything else. In the weight room, the more reactive the training the more carry over to the sport (just one example). Now the tricky part is to become better at certain tests you have to practice the test if you want to improve. This is where we come in… Improving your 60 time is not as simple as just running a 60 yard sprint every day. Rather, as strength coaches we work on force production, single leg strength, running mechanics, acceleration drills, your first 10 yards of the sprint, and so on, breaking the test down into parts that will improve relevant sport related qualities of the athlete, while also providing significant improvement in the actual “test”.
We all have to show that we have put in the work for the up and coming season, so performing well at these tests will help you, but if you don’t have a great 60 time or weak numbers for other tests, don’t get discouraged. Nowadays every coach is obsessed with providing some metric or score to quantify the athletes or prospects ability, so all you can do is do your best and if you truly want to be noticed, make sure you put your best foot forward on film or during the actual sport related drill (like fielding, hitting and throwing). If you hit 10 home runs in batting practice during a showcase but your exit velo was not off the charts, you will still get noticed.