Commentary on How to Interpret Changes in an Athletic Performance Test
David B Pyne
This presentation makes a clear and persuasive justification for adopting new approaches to data interpretation of performance testing in elite athletes. The traditional approach in many sports science laboratories, and elite athlete and professional sports programs, has relied on subjective or "on-the-fly" interpretation of the results of performance tests. Although some laboratories have established the typical error (TE) of commonly used tests for purposes of accreditation, these values are often not used in practice. Mere citation of TE values on the bottom of printed reports, without direct consideration in the interpretation of results, is a rather limited approach to the issue. In many laboratories a more quantitative (statistical) approach to the interpretation of test results is restricted to discrete research projects rather than for routine use in day-to-day testing or servicing of athletes.
It is clear from
The distinction between identifying the
magnitude of change required in performance time or power output is an
important one. As
One approach offered in the quest for reducing the noise of tests is to conduct multiple testing rather than relying on a single assessment. Athletes are understandably reluctant to repeat sustained maximal effort tests, such as the progressive incremental maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) test, but other simpler measures, such as routine anthropometric testing, explosive tests, or short duration-high intensity tests like the 20-m sprint, can often be measured in duplicate or triplicate.
Another important issue raised by
Incorporation of quantitative approaches for interpreting magnitudes of changes and differences into individual and group athlete reports provides an interesting challenge for sports scientists. Scientists and researchers will need to develop elegant solutions in spreadsheet and database applications, with the ultimate aim of producing simple and user-friendly reports for athletes and coaches.