Why the SDS fitness test for referees is so important

The SDS fitness test for referees has been introduced by UEFA 2 years ago. It is part of their innovations for the physical preparation of elite referees. Following 3 test sessions during winter and summer courses, it was observed that referees showed a better standard of fitness. Referees deliver more high intensity runs than before, especially in UEFA competitions compared to domestic matches. Before, other tests were used like the FIFA fitness test or the Yo Yo test. Why does this relatively new test by Uefa help you and why has it been developed?

What is the SDS fitness test for referees?

SDS refers to single-double-single and you have to run a single run of 60 metres, then a double (2x 16m with a turn) and then a single run of 60m. Curious to the specific details of the test and audio files to practise it? Check out the Single-Double-Single page.

More match-specific

First of all, this test is more match-specific.

  • The distances of the test are similar to the distances covered during a match. The 60 m run is similar to a box to box run, for example.
  • Plus you’ll have to run at high intensity, which is similar to what referees do in top level football. The higher the level, the more minutes referees run at high intensity.
  • There are also fewer turns than in the Yo Yo test, which brings it closer to actual matches.
  • The impact on the musculo-skeletal system is also less (tendons, articulations, joints).

Secondly, to progress as referee, the variation in testing and training is crucial. The latter is also why you should do referee specific training and not just go out for a 5km run on the same tempo.

Main differences with the FIFA test and Yo Yo

The high intensity distance covered in the FIFA test (3000m) and SDS fitness (2880m) test is similar, but lower in the Yo Yo test (1800).

And there are more differences. In the FIFA tests there is no change of direction. You run 75m within a time limit and then you rest. And go back for a similar run. That’s not very match specific, because you’ll have to do that during the game a lot.

An example to illustrate that. You run forward at high speed and then a central defender intercepts the ball and passes it to the left back. Then you have to adapt your positioning and change direction. In the SDS fitness test however, you change three times before you have a rest period.

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