When used in an appropriate manner, fitness tests can provide individuals with valuable information about general health and wellbeing or levels of preparedness for performance in games and sport. Well-designed and well-measured tests can give information about general heart and lung health, the ability to get through daily life without fatigue, strength and flexibility. The information can also give very clear data about an athlete’s capabilities, particularly in sports where specific components are vital to performance, such as endurance in Australian rules football, speed in 100-metre sprinting and strength in weight lifting.
Good tests can also be very informative in picking up information about injury, for example, testing the muscle strength of agonist and antagonist muscles to determine joint stability. Fitness testing can also have negative outcomes if used to embarrass or scare people into action. Simple tests such as measuring weight or skinfolds can impact negatively if done in a public place where it may humiliate the person being tested. Validity and reliability
Many fitness tests provide information about a specific component of fitness and these results cannot be transferred to broad statements about overall physical fitness. Some field tests only provide broad observations rather than scientific data. To be of value a test must really measure what it says it is measuring (validity) and produce consistent results when testing the same person at the same point in time (reliability).
For example, a beep test using an old stretched audiotape would not be considered a valid or reliable test for cardiorespiratory endurance. Age of testing There is no doubt that advanced testing techniques such as gas analysis and the beep test have great value to elite athletes in providing information about readiness for play, capability to play in certain positions and fitness level for elite performance. The information gathered for elite performance does not always apply to young children and the testing methods
used aren’t always appropriate for use with young children. Testing can often become a source of embarrassment or a ‘turn off’ factor for young people in participating in physical activity. Use of results If testing results are used appropriately they can inform and guide improvement in performance and wellness. If the results are over-emphasised and used as a source of public embarrassment or to threaten young people, testing can have a significant negative impact.
The average person on the street will not react to test results in the same way as an elite athlete and interpretation and information sharing of results need to be considered carefully. Analysis of results Care should always be taken when making conclusions about test results. Drawing incorrect conclusions or using the data inappropriately can be misleading. As with all scientific data there are limitations on what any set of data means.