Key performance indicators (KPI) enable coaches to have a general awareness of the competitive readiness of their athletes. In terms of athlete monitoring, KPI’s may provide the most meaningful information pertaining to performance, assuming the KPI and actual sport performance correlate well with each other. An important characteristic of a KPI is that it must not involve considerable risk, can be acquired easily and affordably, and ideally will involve minimal equipment. Coaches may use KPI’s to guide training management. For example, decrements in KPI’s may be a sign of fatigue or an underlying injury. Monitoring the evolution of KPI’s throughout training may reveal that time course for supercompensation following heavy training periods (i.e., pre-season training). A 1RM back squat or 40 yard dash may correlate well with performance in certain sports. However, both of these performance tests present unnecessary injury risk for the athlete, particularly if evaluated weekly and near competitions.
Determining the most effective KPI’s for your athletes can be challenging. Some new research ahead of print from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research provides some important insight on what may serve as valid KPI’s for sprint performance. Loturco et al. (2015) tested 14 elite (Olympic) male 100 m sprinters in a variety of performance tests two weeks before a competition. The tests included: squat jumps, countermovement jumps, horizontal jumps, maximum mean propulsive power relative to body mass in loaded jump squats and a flying start 50 m sprint. 100 m race times were recorded at the competition and then compared to the performance markers.
The results showed moderate correlations between the 50 m flying start spring and actual 100 m race time (r = 0.66). The mean propulsive velocity test showed a large correlation (r = 0.75) with 100 m race time. Interestingly, the strongest correlations were found with the simplest tests. Unloaded squat jump, countermovement jump, and horizontal jump correlated very largely with 100 m race times (r = -0.82, -0..85 and -0.81, respectively).
These results suggest that basic jump tests like a vertical jump can provide a good indication of sprint performance. Essentially what the results mean is that in a group of sprinters who are all quite equal in caliber, the jump tests almost perfectly predicted race outcomes. Those who jumped higher flat-out ran faster while those who jumped less high ran slower. There are several possible take-away’s from these results.
- Developing and training jumps may have direct carry over to sprint performance
- Jump tests may serve as a useful KPI for sprint athletes
- Jump tests may serve as a useful monitoring tool when evaluated regularly (i.e., weekly)
Conveniently, the least expensive, and easiest to implement tests were the most effective. This tells us that large budgets and fancy equipment may not be necessary to effectively monitor performance in high level athletes.
Loturco, I., Pereira, L. A., Abad, C. C. C., D’Angelo, R. A., Fernandes, V., Kitamura, K., … & Nakamura, F. Y. (2015). Vertical and horizontal jump tests are strongly associated with competitive performance in 100-m dash events. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Ahead of