An assessment is a tool used for either measuring an individual skill or mastery or to evaluate a participant’s biometrics (Blood Pressure or BP, body weight or BW, body fat or BF).
It is the responsibility of the coach or trainer to administer any assessment using reliable testing methods that provide meaningful information to all involved (participants, coaches, trainers). Coaches and trainers will use all assessment data to find a starting point for a new athlete/participant, identify their abilities, and then re-assess their abilities as training progresses.
Each trainee is provided information that they would not otherwise know or understand without the guidance of a coach or trainer. All coaches and trainers must continually assess and re-assess their trainees to determine their strengths and weaknesses and to determine the effectiveness of the training one is currently using or will use.
Effective assessments and an experienced assessor (the coach and trainer) not only gives significant information to everyone involved but provides a strong message to help all participants recognize strength training is not as simple as throwing weight around or doing high-intensity training to raise their heart rate (HR).
Training is More than just Exercising
Physical training is a science. It is exercise science. Pursuing any type of training without basing it upon solid scientific research is inferior in nature and will produce reduced results and greater risks. A doctor would not prescribe medication or operate without a thorough assessment.
Therefore, all professional coaches and trainers should not develop anyone’s strength training program without a thorough assessment. One cannot know where one is going if one does not know where one has been. How does this apply to physical training?
Training must be altered based upon age, size, weight, current training protocols, fitness levels, movement skill, injuries, diseases, and current goals. This is a substantial amount of information. It is also a considerable amount of information to assume if it is not uncovered. It is impossible to utilize safe, efficient, and effective training protocols without understanding these variables for each individual.
Many coaches and trainers have simply based a program on “now” (trial and error), and the end goal(s), rather than exploring the past. Failing to uncover a past injury, illness, disease, or physiological/mechanical limitation could be disastrous. Assessments must be performed to gain a greater understanding of individual capabilities and limitations, among many other reasons, to be explained shortly.
Assessments Defined by Type
Assessments are performed as either formal or informal evaluations. Informal assessments of skills should occur with every movement and every repetition of every exercise/movement. These informal assessments are called micro-assessments. Formal assessments are known as macro-assessments.
These macro-assessments occur at pre-designated periods for more formalized performance checks. Examples of formalized assessments include checking biometrics to identify any change after a 12 week training period.
Timing is important, as it is often best to have a complete rest day or series of lighter days prior to holding a formal assessment, to ensure that the fatigue of training does not affect assessment results.
The formal, scheduled assessments must be as objective as possible while ensuring that the participant is motivated (by knowing the assessment date and understanding what is to be assessed ahead of time) and in their peak condition.
The results of the assessments will reflect the areas to be emphasized in training. Assessments must serve as feedback and be carefully evaluated.
Why Should You Assess?
The reasons for performing both micro and macro-assessments include:
- Determining capabilities before participation in physical training
- Determining limitations before participation in physical training
- Serving as a baseline of comparison for future assessments
- Setting realistic performance standards to personalize one’s training and set appropriate performance goals
- Assisting in the prediction of future performance
- Showing whether your athlete/trainee is improving or regressing in specific components of a specific category of strength/fitness and performance
- Providing an indication of your participant’s readiness following an injury or illness
- Creating or increasing motivation for your trainees (to improve upon results)
These areas of assessment (evaluation/tests) have long been the standard protocols in the fitness industry.
Basic Health Assessments (Screens)
- Fitness History
- Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
- Blood Pressure (BP)
- Weight (kilos or pounds)
- Girth (optional)
- Body Composition (optional)
Basic Fitness Assessments (Tests)
- Flexibility Tests/Assessments
- Sit and Reach
- Strength Assessments
- Upper Body
- Lower Body
- Core (trunk)
- Cardiovascular Assessments (Tests)
Skill Assessments (Tests)
- These are specific assessments based on numerous movement patterns specific to an activity or sport the trainee wants to participate in.
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