Video by Nik Conklin // Athletic Communications
By Libby Kehn // Athletic Communications
The beep test.
For soccer players across many levels – high school, club, college, even national teams – it’s a normal part of vocabulary, and has been used for generations to test individual players’ level of fitness. For those that don’t have an extensive soccer background, here’s the most comprehensive definition I could find (courtesy of TheBeepTest.com and TopEndSports.com):
The beep test is used by coaches and trainers to estimate an athlete’s maximum oxygen uptake, better known as VO2 Max. It involves running continuously between two lines that are 20 meters apart. The runs are synchronized with prerecorded audio which plays beeps at set intervals. The subject stands behind one of the lines facing the second line, and begins running when instructed by the audio recording, turning when signaled by the recorded beeps. As the test proceeds, the interval between each successive beep reduces, forcing the athlete to increase speed over the course of the test, until it is impossible to keep in sync with the recording. The athlete’s score is the level and number of shuttles reached before they are unable to keep up with the recording.
After witnessing the beep test in person last week when Clemson’s women’s soccer team opened its first session of preseason training by running it, here’s the best way I can describe it in my own words (words that are echoed in the above video):
A rigorous, excruciating, emotional test of both physical and mental strength and ability.
I must say our players made it look easy, or, at least, in my opinion, as easy as the beep test could possibly look. OK, so maybe not the player that slid across the finish line in order to pass to the next level, but displaying that kind of effort after enduring that kind of fatigue was impressive in itself.
As the beeps continued to sound in shorter intervals, and players were required to run faster in order to cross the line in the allotted time or risk being called “out,” to my untrained eye, it seemed that our team was in very good shape. (By the way, it’s impossible to make it look easy at this point.)
As it turns out, they were. I’m not going to reveal our individual scores. I’m sure the coaches would not appreciate me giving away all our secrets before our first regular season game. What I can say is when it was all said and done, more than two-thirds of our players achieved new personal-best scores. (According to the staff, our players are tested at various times throughout the year, with PRs kept for comparison throughout their four-year careers.) In addition, two players drastically exceeded expectations, and recorded the highest scores of any two players in recent program history.
There’s no research that shows success in the beep test determines success on the soccer field. But I can say with certainty that this team’s success in the beep test was determined by the level of commitment and hard work attained throughout the summer, when all but three members of the team attended summer school, trained together and pushed each other day in and day out. I find it hard to believe that the players’ collective dedication won’t translate to success on the field for the Tigers this fall.