Yo-Yo Test

In Part I of this post we made a brief introduction to team sports and described the high intensity intermittent pattern of activity in these sports, which has led to the development and validation of intermittent match-fitness test in various sports. We also described the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test and the main metabolic and practical differences between Level 1 and Level 2. In this Part II, we will deal with the validation and practical application of the YYIRT in football and other sports.

Krustrup et al. (2003) demonstrated that the YYIRT Level 1 has a high day-to-day reproducibility and also validity, as the test performance was closely related to match physical performance in football. Additionally, the test was proven to be sensitive, allowing to analyse the differences in physical capacities of the players at different times of the season. Physiologically, these authors showed that aerobic energy turnover was maximized and the anaerobic system heavily taxed toward the end of the test.

These researchers (Krustrup et al. 2006) also demonstrated that the YYIRT Level 2 can be used to assess an athlete’s ability to carry out intense intermittent exercise bouts with a high aerobic energy output and a considerable contribution from anaerobic energy sources. As the YYIRT Level 1, the YYIRT Level 2 was also shown to be highly reproducible and sensitive.

The YYIRT Level 1 has been reported to be related to the ability to perform bouts of high-intensity exercise during the game not only in male but also in female football (Krustrup et al. 2003, Krustrup et al. 2005). Individual differences in YYIRT performance have been reported to depend on training status, period of the season and explosive strength of the lower-limbs in male football players (Krustrup et al. 2003, Castagna et al. 2006).

Mujika et al. (2008) assessed the YYIRT Level 1 performance in male and female professional and junior football players. Results showed that the ability to perform intermittent high-intensity exercise for prolonged periods of time, as measured by the YYIRT, constitutes a discriminative variable both in female and male football. The higher YYIRT performance found in female and male first division players compared to Junior counterparts revealed the necessity to possess a high level of specific endurance to compete at professional level in both sexes. However, sex related differences, according to competitive level, were higher in the female side, YYIRT performance being 48% higher in first division females than in junior females; differences between male professionals and juniors were much smaller (15%).

Castagna et al. (2006) assessed the physiological determinants of performance in the YYIRT in male football players. These authors reported that the lower limb explosiveness (i.e. counter movement jump performance) was related to YYIRT performance in non elite male football players. In contrast with that report, YYIRT performance was significantly related to vertical jump performances in female players only in the study by Mujika et al. (2008). However, analysis of pooled male and female data showed that YYIRT performance was significantly related to counter movement jump performance, suggesting a performance level above which further lower limb explosiveness may result in no effect on YYIRT.

Krustrup et al. (2003) found a significant correlation between YYIRT performance and the maximal oxygen uptake of habitually active subjects. In contrast, Castagna et al. (2006) did not observe such a correlation in trained amateur football players. This difference suggested that the YYIRT can be considered a football specific field test.

The study by Mujika et al. (2008) revealed that YYIRT performance was negatively affected by sum of skinfolds but positively related to body mass and height, suggesting that body composition may play a role in intermittent high-intensity predominantly aerobic performance (Krustrup et al. 2006) in football players.

In light of the results of Mujika et al. (2008), YYIRT performance in the range of 2400 and 1200 m may be considered as referring standard for male and female first division football players, respectively. In addition, due to its relationship with match activities (Krustrup and Bangsbo 2001, Krustrup et al. 2003, Mohr et al. 2004), the YYIRT should be considered by football coaches and fitness trainers for talent selection and development. In fact, Mujika et al. (2007) used the YYIRT Level 1 to assess the match fitness of a 16-year old football player when he was underperforming due to a lack of aerobic fitness, and during an individualized training program targeting his aerobic power and glycolytic system. The test was considered appropriate to evaluate the effects of such a training program.

Application in other team sports

Besides male and female football, the YYIRT has been shown to be a valid tool for fitness testing in other sports and activities such as football refereeing (Castagna et al. 2005, Krustrup and Bangsbo 2001), basketball (Castagna et al. 2008), rugby league (Atkins 2006) and Australian rules football (Young et al. 2005, Thomas et al. 2006). Moreover, the Water polo Intermittent Shuttle Test (WIST), which is based on the YYIRT Level 1, has been shown to be a reliable, sensitive and valid match-fitness test for water polo players (Mujika et al. 2006).


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