Should Ringette Players do the Beep Test?

Question: "My husband is working with Ringette Canada on some fitness testing for girls in a new program they're trying to bring in to replace AA. They currently do the "beep test" as a measure of their fitness and we don't think it's the greatest way to see how fit these girls actually are.

We're wondering if you might have some suggestions on other ways? The beep test is great for explosive stuff and a lot of these girls score well, but then get on the ice and their endurance is what kills them. While the sport is explosive it also needs the ability to maintain that and repeat it.

Would some sort of VO2 max test be better (without getting too scientific) or a combination (that's what I'm thinking)? For example,

Beep test

FTP Bike Test

Treadmill test

Thoughts?" Your question about Ringette testing is a good one. It sounds like a consulting question - right up my alley of expertise. I'll try to answer this generally but It's not really a straight forward answer. It depends. But, what does it depend on?

The first question that comes to mind before which test to select is, what does the research say about the sport?

I would analyze the research and figure out what portion of the sport of Ringette is dominated by various physiological parameters

Max Strength

ATP PCr energy system

Anaerobic Glycolysis (slow or fast)

Aerobic Metabolism

Sprint speed (what distance)

Repeatability (how many sprints and how often)

From this list, or perhaps a more extensive one (flexibility? mobility? ankle dorsiflexion? grip strength?) I would start to narrow down the tests that make the most sense and that hit on the biggest rocks in the bucket. For example, Bobsleigh Canada has deemed the single individual push worth 40% of the testing score for their athletes, while anthropometric data makes up 5%. Maybe for Ringette, anthro is of higher importance for being good at the sport, but aerobic ceiling is not?

Based on your question above, the fact that the girls don't have the endurance to last on the ice, there are many factors that may improve that fact. For example, better body composition (hauling around less non-contractile weight, or fat), better efficiency (technique in skating), or better strength (higher ceiling, so multiple sub-maximal efforts are less training), could all help.

If the girls are doing well by your standards on the beep test, but dying on the ice- is the standard too low perhaps? Or is it not testing the correct thing you're trying to measure? You mention the Beep test is great for explosiveness, but actually it was not developed for explosiveness at all. It is a reliable and valid measure of aerobic capacity, or aerobic ceiling, which really doesn't have a lot to do with how fast or explosive someone is.

If we are talking more about an anaerobic capability that is lacking in these girls - we would then look for tests that match the sport the closest, that have been evaluated for scientific validity and reliability.

Back to your question, where you specifically site:

Beep test

FTP Bike Test

Treadmill test

We recognize that skating is not biking, nor running.

Do we have the option to run a testing protocol on the ice? If it is not feasible, bike and treadmill testing is probably the next best bet.

We already mentioned that the beep test is a reliable and valid measure of aerobic capacity (size of the tank), but that it doesn't have much to do with explosiveness.

The FTP bike test is one I would personally stay away from. The FTP is a measurement predominantly done in the cycling community that is not quite at anaerobic threshold (a useful physiological threshold we can talk about), and is not really that useful for Ringette in my opinion. If you know their anaerobic threshold, higher is probably better, but they are not continuous endurance athletes that will be training or skating at their anaerobic threshold for long amounts of time (as the test was intended).

A "treadmill test" is a little too broad but the main ones that come to mind are threshold testing (using lactate thresholds), or the Bruce test (mainly a protocol used for VO2max or cardiac stress testing), or perhaps some kind of critical power testing - with little to no direct transfer, that I know of, to Ringette.

Cost and time is obviously the next question. If we decide that VO2max testing is the best way to go, or threshold testing, does it even matter if that is the best way to go, if the team can't afford $150+tax for each individual VO2max test? In which case, we would digress to more field testing, or cut testing out as needed.

A long winded question with no set answer, because the answer is always it depends. I don't know the sport of Ringette as well as some others, but I have some ideas! More research required. Feel free to send me any questions you have! Carla Robbins

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