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Don't get me wrong, I am all for establishing a standard set of physical testing norms for a team during preseason, but it is important to be aware of what message you are sending to your players when doing so.

By all means set the bar high and let your players know your level of expectation regarding fitness for example, but make sure the parameters are realistic for the players and not totally out of their control. Here are two examples that prove my point:

1. A Div. 1 football program's summer conditioning test is 28 x 110's, last year they ran 31 x 110's. Now the traditional test used by many programs is 16 x 110's. However, this particular program runs a second set after a few minutes rest. While this may help to show mental toughness and gut wrenching fitness, it also sends out a different message that has little to do with football specific fitness. By the way, guess how many players actually made all of their times? No more than three I was told.
Note: I want to be clear and let you know that this test did not come from the school's strength and conditioning coach but from the head coaching staff.

2. Checkout the following chart for preseason testing by a top 20 soccer program. This is given to incoming freshmen before they report. What's wrong with this? Overall nothing, except for the very first item which is what the player cannot control. I know of plenty of world class soccer players who are under 6'0" tall.

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As a strength and conditioning coach, we have the power to design environments for our players that are mentally engaging, physicall challenging, and emotionally involved. the key word being 'design' which includes the atmosphere you want to create along with the actual testing battery you want to implement (i.e. running two miles on a track is probably not the best 'atmosphere' for a soccer player!)

What are some of the things that you have found successul with your player's coming into preseason?

Jeremy Boone
www.athletebydesign.com

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Comment by Jeremy Boone on August 25, 2009 at 12:31pm
Yep totally agree. Can't bite the hand that feeds you! However, personally having been in that situation, it helps to at least get the coaching staff to define exactly what they mean by mentally challenging. Then give an example of when they believe the team showed this as a strength, and then as a weakness.

From there it can help to get the coach to get a clearer understanding of what the ultimate goal he or she is trying to actually achieve!
Comment by Craig Cheek on August 25, 2009 at 12:12pm
Hard to tell when your hands are tied by the coaching staffs you work for. Basketball coaches seem to think that running the mile is more mentally challenging than running 22x22's.

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