How to prepare for a fitness test

How to prepare for a fitness test? That’s a crucial question before the season starts, but also when you have to pass the test later on in your season. In this blog post you receive tips on how to prepare by Stephen Oduor. He is a trained FIFA and CAF physical fitness instructor and a referee coach from Kenya.

Plus you’ll get a few exercises to practice for the FIFA fitness test.

Fitness instructor Stephen Oduor

Strive for progress, not perfection

Because Stephen Oduor was active at the Kenyan national level, he knows the drills about running the test. Since 2016 he’s a fitness instructor. “I would like to help them because I love development and passion of the game.” He loves it “because I have been an assistant referee in our top league for 13 years.”

“Fitness is within me”, says Stephen Oduor. “My theme is ”strive for progress” to achieve your goals, not perfection.” Below the image you’ll find the tips.

Tips to prepare for a fitness test

First of all, a quick recap on all the fitness tests that we have to do.

Most referees have to pas the FIFA fitness tests, but will be tested for the others during the season in training sessions. In this blog post we focus on the FIFA fitness test, which is the main test for all.

1. Mental strength

Mental strength is required, says Stephen Oduor. Don’t you recognize that story when a referee arrives at their FA’s headquarters for a test and then he feels his knee. Something he hasn’t felt in months, but it comes up on the day of the test. Stephen Oduor stresses that it’s important not to think about as examination. “Mental strength is used by training a referee not to think of a test, but as an exercise to check.” Not about failing or passing a test, just a check of your ability.

2. Start preparation gradually

Start your preparation gradually. Make sure you start early, because then you have time to build up your fitness levels. In the off-season referees take the rest they need and are “only maintaining his or her fitness level”. Stephen Oduor : “It requires a gradual preparation, especially if a referee was in transition or the league has ended.”

3. Get the right nutrition

“Nutrition is one of the vital aspect for a professional athlete”, says Stephen Oduor. “He or she needs to check what to eat and what not to.” His advice (and I’ve added some examples):

  • 60 – 65% should be carbohydrates (Examples”bread, pasta, fruit, rice, potatoes)
  • 10 – 15% should be protein (Examples: dairy, lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu)
  • 5 – 10% should be fat (Examples: don’t go for the fried things, but try good fats, like fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil.)

“They should avoid alcohol”, advises Stephen Oduor. “As it makes athlete’s body weak and drags them behind.”

4. Work on your fitness

As referee don’t just practise the test a few times, because there are a lot of fitness aspects to work on. “During the preparation referees need to work out on core stability, strength, speed (repeated sprint ability), change of direction (CODA) and endurance exercises. All this shall provide the referee enough energy.” On Stephen’s YouTube channel you can see examples of exercises as well.

Below the video of the CODA test you’ll find a training exercise to practise in preparation for the test.

Fitness exercise to prepare for the test

When I was talking with Stephen Oduor about preparation for a test, this exercise came to mind. A Dutch instructor put this as preparation for a FIFA fitness test to train the qualities you need. Plus I’d always advise you to run the test one or two times after you build up your fitness levels. Then you get used to the test itself and know what you have to do.

Start with a proper warm-up

First exercise: CODA test (2x)

It’s a test that is used for assistant referees, but practising these change of directions will be good for referees as well.

  • Sprint 10m from A to C
  • Sideways for 8m from C to B
  • Sideways for 8m from B to C
  • Sprint 10m from C to A

Repeat this exercise twice, with 60 seconds rest in between. Check the details of the CODA test en the CODA test (the one you mentioned as well)

Change of Direction Ability (CODA) fitness test

2nd exercise: Steigerung

You can do exercises to prepare to do more speed work. A Steigerung is one of these.

Set out a 30m distance. You start in standing position. Do a sprint where you increase speed every 5-10m to a 100% sprint. Repeat 5 times.

3rd exercise: intensive interval session

Then intensive interval session. You can do this based on different levels. Ideally you’ve already build up your fitness level and have done some sprints in sessions before. Based on your “current” level you can choose the version that will challenges you, but is not too difficult yet.

The options are.

  • 12x 75m in 15s with 20-24s rest (2 series – 4min rest between series)
  • 16x 75m in 15s with 20-22s rest (2 series – 4min rest between series)
  • 20x 75m n 15s with 20-22s rest (2 series – 3min rest between series)

Cooling down

Make sure you do a cooling down as well.

How do you prepare for a fitness test?

I’d love to hear you your preparation for a fitness test is? What kind of routines do you have on the day of the test? I’d love to add them below and this might help or inspire other referees.

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