Power 5.1 as published in American Football Quarterly
Wars have been won or lost by organization. Disarray often leads to defeat, and the more components which are in disarray, the more likely the defeat. What holds true in the test on the battlefield, holds true for testing in the weightroom. A coach may spend hours testing athletes on everything from bench presses to 40-yard dashes to body-fat percentages. However, if the data is not organized properly, it is of little or no use. It must be placed into a format which can be easily used and understood. This article will discuss a few of the different types of ways to organize testing data to get the most out of it. Although much of this article is simple common sense, I am always amazed at the number of coaches who only get half of the value out of their testing data because of a lack of organization.
A to Z list
This format lists all of the athletes in alphabetical order, and typically gives information on a variety of exercises. A sample A to Z list for five different exercises is produced below (all the examples used in this article were provided courtesy of Power 5.1strength training software). Note that the test results for each athlete are written from left to right. This format allows a coach to easily review the evaluation scores on any athlete. For bigger teams, this list could be generated for any single position or grouping. In fact, this format will be very useful when giving information to position coaches.
|372 550 300 0:04.56 35.25||309 445 273 0:04.93 29.43||225 360 235 0:05.25 23.50|
A useful feature, shown above, is to place the highest, average, and lowest scores for the team or position (however the players were selected) on the same printout of the A to Z list. That way, a coach can quickly determine where an athlete is for any given exercise.
Individual Exercise or Event
This list, reproduced below, shows the athletes in order of performance on a particular exercise. The obvious advantage to this format is being able to tell who is the best and who is the worst for any one exercise. A useful piece of information to include in such a report is the team or position average for the exercise. That way, a coach can not only gauge how each athlete is doing comparatively, but is also able to see how the team is doing as a whole.
One of the most powerful ways to present information is with a composite index. This type of index ranks athletes based upon several exercises. This article discusses two types of composite indexes. The first is the Point System and the second is the Average Rank Index.
The most common type of composite index used is a Point System. In a Point System, a coach assigns a certain number of points to each exercise, and then chooses a range of performance for assigning the points. For example, a coach could assign 100 points to the bench press and then use 400 pounds as a top score. If an athlete did 400 pounds or more on the bench press, that athlete would get 100% of the points (100 points) for that exercise. To be even more accurate, a coach could assign both a maximum and a minimum range for the exercise. For example, a coach could assign 250 pounds as a minimum to the bench press. Any athlete that did not bench at least 250 pounds would get no points. If the athlete does between 250 and 400 pounds, then the athlete would receive a percentage of the points depending on where the athlete's score was in the range. A nice feature about a point system is that a coach can "weight" each exercise by assigning more points to the exercise(s) which that coach believes to be most important. For example, for a safety a coach may feel the vertical jump and the 40-yard dash are the two most important exercises to be tested on. Accordingly, that coach could assign 100 points each to those two exercises, and then only assign 50 points to the remainder of the exercises in the test group. When presenting a Point Index, it is a good idea to also display the Team Average to give the reader feedback on not only how the athlete is doing compared to the team, but also on how the team is doing as a whole.
Composite Index based on Points
A second type of composite index is the Average Rank Index ("ARI"). As indicated by its name, the ARI gives the average rank which an athlete earned on a variety of exercises. For an example, this article uses an athlete which tested on three exercises - Bench Press, Squat, and Power Cleans. When compared to the other athletes tested, the athlete finished as follows (based on the amount of weight used): Bench Press - Second; Squats - Third; and Power Cleans - First. The athletes average rank would be the sum of the rank on each exercise divided by the number of exercises tested ((2+3+1)/3) which equals two. In and of itself, this number does not say much. However, when compared with the average rank of the remaining athletes tested, it could mean a great deal. For example, if two is the highest average ranking of all the athletes tested, then that means overall, based on the exercises tested, the athlete with a ranking of two is the best athlete. Depending on what exercises a coach includes within its average ranking system, it is possible for that coach to find the athlete which best fits the qualities the coach is looking for. In fact, reportedly, there is a coach in South Carolina which is able to tell who the starters on his team will be from looking at the ARIs for his team.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
A good report to give to a position coach might include the following:
1) A-Z list of everyone on the team so the coach can have information on all team members.
2) Each test ranked from high to low for the entire team so the coach can see where its players rank relative to the rest of the team.
3) A-Z list of the players at that coach's position which allows that coach to visualize the data for that coaches players only.
4) Each test ranked from high to low for the players at that coach's position so that the coach can identify which of its athletes are the strongest, fastest, most powerful and most flexible based on the tests used to evaluate these characteristics. It may be helpful to summarize the various tests by using one of the composite indexes discussed above.
The foregoing are only a few of the ways which testing data may be organized. One of the most important rules for organizing test data is to not include too much information in one schedule or page. Instead, a coach should use a different chart for each type of test. Further, when using composite indexes, a coach should think through the types of exercises to include in order to get a good indication of the athlete's performance on the items which are important for that coach or sport.
Author: David Leon is a computer consultant who has worked closely with various strength and conditioning coaches throughout the nation helping them organize their weight rooms through the use of computer software. The primary tool used by Mr. Leon is the Power 5.1 strength training program from LJC, Inc., a company of which David is CEO and President.