Why all skiers need Fitness Testing

SXS FITNESS TIPS submitted by Stefan Overgaard. Visit SXS Fitness. 

Now that fall has arrived many of us are back to a regular fitness routine.  Fall also is one of the most popular times for fitness testing in the ski racing community.

Most athletes don’t look forward to fitness testing, in fact for many it’s a dreaded experience, often worse than any exam at school.  Not only is it physically demanding but it also mentally and emotionally exhausting.  Several racing programs have benchmarks that both coaches and parents expect athletes to meet, which is a good thing if you are in a high-performance program, but it can also be stressful.

Despite the anxiety, testing is an absolute necessity in just about any sport.  It all comes down to getting a baseline, setting goals, measuring progress and then using that information towards a training routine that will improve scores on the next test and ultimately increase success on the hill (or any sport) and decrease the chances of injuries.

Fitness testing is no different than being tested in school; some are good at English and weaker in math.  What do we learn when we see a less then satisfactory score in say math? Work harder on math! It is no different for athletic fitness testing with some athletes good at jumping but perhaps not in the overhead squat test. This means these kids need to more focus on flexibility and mobility to improve on this skill.  Testing provides us with a way to accurately define areas of weakness and strengths and a means to measure the improvements.

This is all self-explanatory information.  I think many athletes and parents just don’t appreciate the importance of being tested and avoid it, either because they don’t like the process of the testing, and/or don’t think it’s important.

I believe that fitness testing is important at just about any age or level of sport.  The way we ‘position’ the testing is an essential factor to consider and will have an effect on how athletes see and approach the testing process.  Once an athlete is in FIS or even U16 high performance, testing is competitive and they are measured against peers and expected to meet standards.  For younger ages, there still needs to be tested however the focus should be on how they are scoring relative to themselves based on their previous scores. The most relevant data gained is not the score itself, but rather the improvement or lack of as compared to their previous score.

If we position the testing in a positive and productive manner where the athletes view the event as a fun challenge against their peers, and more importantly against their previous scores it should be less stressful.  As a former athlete, I know there is a huge satisfaction in seeing improvements and meeting goals. If we champion the athlete’s improvements and position testing as a personal challenge to set and meet goals it can become something to look forward to, rather than dread.

Just remember if you don’t know where you are going, you probably will never get there.