What is ‘Yo-Yo’ endurance test?
A few years ago, I came across an article titled “Yuvraj, Raina failed ‘Yo-Yo’ endurance test at the NCA”. Incidentally, I came across that same article today. This made me ponder a little on how come the sports persons once being labeled as the fittest athletes of their era with performances always sending awe in viewers. They were always the best fielding lots of their team. They were always known for their high standard of fielding performances yet they failed some test which is nothing but fitness test. It is quite wondering. And most importantly, it was only their failure to clear the mentioned, ‘Yo-Yo Endurance’, fitness test at NCA which led their omission from Indian National Cricket Team leading to their playing career ending abruptly. Off course, we are aware of the facts that recently Indian cricket team has emphasized more on their fitness and thereby, undergoing a lot of fitness tests with ‘Yo-Yo’ endurance test being the most important of them.
The Yo-Yo Endurance Test (continuous) is a variation of the beep test. Part of the yo-yo test series developed by the Danish soccer physiologist Jens Bangsbo. This test has two versions: Level 1 i.e., for beginners and Level 2 i.e., for advanced. Level one is similar to the standard beep test. However, level 2 test starts with higher running speed and has different incremental speed as in Yo-Yo Endurance test levels. There is also an intermittent version of the Yo-Yo test, which incorporates a recovery period after each 40m run i.e., 2 x 20m run. This test evaluates an individual’s aerobic endurance fitness. This test doesn’t require anything big and rather flat non-slip surface, cones, measuring tapes, pre-recorded audia cd, cd player, recording sheet etc. Team BeepTest software is also used.
The cones are placed such that they denote two lines 20 meters apart. A player starts with the foot behind on e of the lines and run as per the instructions. The player runs between the lines and turns on signal by the recorded beeps. After every minutes or so, the pace increases. If one misses to reach in time, the player must run to the line and try to catch up with the pace within 2 more beeps. If the player misses to catch up with the pace within the two ends, the test immediately stops.
The player’s score is the total distance covered before the player was unable to keep up with the recording’s pace. The Yo-Yo intermittent test usually takes between 6 – 20 minutes for level 1 and between 2 – 10 minutes for level 2. This test is suitable for sports team and school groups. It is not generally recommended for general population. This is best suited for soccer and basketball players. Its reliability depends on how seriously and strictly the test is run and at the same time how strictly the previous practice allowed for the player. The biggest advantage is that large groups can perform this test at minimum cost. It is a maximum test and requires reasonable level of fitness. It is strictly no for those with health problems, injuries or low fitness levels.
The Yo-Yo Intermittent Tests are very similar to the Yo-Yo Endurance Test (a variation of the beep test), except in the intermittent tests the participants have a short active break (5 and 10 seconds for the intermittent endurance and intermittent recovery test, respectively). There are two versions of each Yo-Yo Intermittent Test, a beginner Level 1 and advanced level 2.
There is a variation to the Yo-Yo test which is very good to distinguish players between aerobic and anaerobic work. In this, the player change speed quicker and that makes anaerobic point of deflection much easier to see. The player starts at 8 km/h and run 4 intervals where 1 interval consists of 2 x 20 m + 5 sec pause as in the Yo-Yo endurance test. The test speed increases by 1km/h after every 4 intervals.
Now, the first thing that comes to our mind is what this ‘Yo-Yo’ endurance test is, which the so called or at least the fittest players considered in the Indian team failed the test. Let’s look at this more closely. In this test, cones are placed to mark out two lines 20 meters apart. A player starts running when instructed by starting with his foot behind one of the lines. They continue running between the two lines and turning when they are signed to do so by the recorded beeps. The pace gets quicker after approximately every minute. If a player is not able to reach the line in time, the player must run to the line and try to catch up with the pace within two more beeps. The test is stopped if the player fails to catch up with the pace within the two ends. This is totally software based and every step is recorded for further analysis and records. The current Indian team is considered as one of the fittest team around.
Although it is not declared publically but the perception is that for the cutoff of Indian cricket team, a ‘Yo-Yo’ score of 19.5 or more is acceptable. The fittest Indian cricketer is Virat Kohli who very often scores around 21 in this test. It is at NCA in this test that Yuvraj and Raina failed to score 19.5 which are called permissible level and this was the biggest reason for their ouster from the team. The current Indian team management has mad fitness standards mandatory for selection and it is non-negotiable. The Australian cricketers score around 21 consistently in Yo-Yo test. It is believed that in earlier era when the traditional beep test was in vogue, the Indian players of 1990’s would have barely managed a score of around 16 barring a few like Ajay Jadeja, Robin Singh or Muhammad Azharuddin. The scenario has changed a lot now. Today, the skipper is leading from the front in fitness and he himself is hitting the benchmark at par with the best and fittest cricket team around i.e. Australian team. This test will definitely do a lot of good in improving the performance of players in other sports with high endurance of speed.