With my background in sports science, I compared my fitness levels to Wolves players through a series of fitness tests.
For those who follow former Wolves player and current Head of Sport Science at Molineux Tony Daley on Twitter, you’ll have seen he’s been keeping us up to date with how the players are performing through a series of fitness tests.
It’s a great insight to how the players are assessed and the preparation involved in the build up to the new campaign. But now we know who the top performing player is and how well they’ve done, the question is how that compares to the average person?
Some of the tests are fairly straight forward to test to see how you compare to a professional footballer while others require some pretty expensive tech. Fortunately having done a degree in Sports Science, I’ve kept all the data and results to see how someone relatively active compares to a professional footballer. So lets see how we stack up against them.
Standing Vertical Jump
The vertical jump is used to judge explosive power as there is a strong relationship between jump height and explosive muscular power. Explosive power is important asset on the football pitch as it allows a player to move off faster. Jumping itself is important in football when heading the ball, so as well as being a good indicator of how explosiveness of a player, it’s also an attribute in itself.
Dominic Iorfa topped this season’s squad with a vertical jump of 59.7cm. The young defender, from a standing position, can effectively increase his height by two feet which is pretty impressive.
Compare it to someone who’s physically active and around the same height as Iorfa, their standing jump height is 53.4cm. It might not seem like a huge difference, but being able to out jump someone by 6.3cm to go for a header is the difference between scoring and the opposite beating you to the header.
The test is an agility test involving sprinting, sideways shuffling and running backwards. As well as being a good indicator of agility, it’s also a decent measure of footwork co-ordination. The ability to change direction is key in football to go past a player and to get into the best position to defend.
From the diagram above, the athlete start at cone A and sprints to touch cone B. From there, they shuffle to cone C, touching it with their left hand. From cone C, they shuffle all the way across to cone D, then back inside to cone B before running backwards to cone A to finish.
Fancast player of the year Richard Stearman set the benchmark this year, completing the course in 17.39 seconds, showing an excellent change of direction.
Despite being fairly active, speed and agility tests aren’t my forte. But for science and for the Fancast, I marked out some cones in the garden and gave it my all and clocked in at a not that respectable 22.93 seconds.
Much like a standing vertical jump, the standing broad jump is used as an indicator of explosive leg power. Having this type of explosiveness is beneficial for sprinting in short bursts and also for shot power.
Injury prone Razak Boukari set the furthest jump in preseason with broad jump of 3 metres (#razakreturns). It isn’t a lot to go on, but it might show the slightest glimmer of potential for next season.
My attempt at a broad jump wasn’t as good as Boukari’s saldy as I was only able to jump 2.45metres.
Yoyo Intermittent recovery test level 2
The yoyo test is similar to the Beep Test, a old school endurance test that’s been used for invasion sports for decades. It is a test of endurance and also recovery, in attempt to simulate a game situation.
Much like the bleep test, runners have to run between two points 20 metres apart between in the allotted time with 10 seconds to recovery. It finishes as soon as you are unable to keep up with the beeps.
New signing Jed Wallace was clearly on a mission to show what he’s capable of, reaching level 23 and running 1440m.
My own personal attempt at the Yoyo test wasn’t as impressive, only managing to reach level 14 before regretting the amount of junk food I’ve been eating since prior to my own preseason.
You know the one, when the players do their best Bane impression. Essentially, a VO2max test is a endurance test usually done on a exercise bike or treadmill, exercising to an increasing intensity until exhaustion.
I won’t bore anyone with the precise physiology around VO2max, but it is the maximum rate the body can effectively use oxygen when exercising.
The last time I completed this test, my VO2max was 47.07 Ml.Min-1.kg-1 (millilitres of oxygen per min relative to body weight), which isn’t too bad considering the average is around 35-40 Ml.Min-1.kg-1.
However slightly above average my score was, Jack Price would do laps round me with his levels of endurance. His score of 69.7 Ml.Min-1.kg-1 shows why he is able to run around a football pitch for 90 minutes.
Speed is the difference between winning and losing. No matter what level of football you are at, the toughest players to come up against are the ones who have pace.
The quickest Wolves player over 10m was Nouha Dicko, clocking in at 1.57 seconds. Dominic Iorfa was fastest in a 30 metre sprint in 3.79 seconds.
I’m fairly athletic, but acceleration has never been my best asset on the football pitch. My time over 10 metres is 2.03 seconds, while over 30 metres when I have a little more time to gain speed, it took me 4.43 seconds. I think I might need to swap the 5km runs for some sprint training.
1 rep max Bench Press
With football being less physical than decades ago, upper body strength is often overlooked these days. Having strength allows players to be more of a presence when going into contact with the opposition.
A 1 RM bench press, as well as showing strength, is a good indicator of propulsion and balance in your arms which helps with sprinting.
I don’t do a lot of lifting on account of preference more endurance exercises (and having small arms) and the most I’ve ever managed to bench press is 70kg.
Carl Ikeme can bench an impressive 120kg, a lot more than I’ve ever tried lifting. Ikeme is however significantly bigger than me.
Interestingly, when the bench press is relative to player’s body weight, Tommy Rowe and Liam McAlinden had the best strength to weight ratios.
So as you can see, it looks like I’ve got a long way to go before my fitness levels are up there with the likes of Iorfa and Price. Now, where are my crisps.
Disclaimer – Tests that were completed by Wolverhampton Wanderers and me were not performed with the exact same methodology of each other. This article is just to show the rough difference elite athlete and someone who is physically active.