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Sports Med. 2008;38(4):297-316.

Validity, reliability and sensitivity of measures of sporting performance.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.


Performance testing is one of the most common and important measures used in sports science and physiology. Performance tests allow for a controlled simulation of sports and exercise performance for research or applied science purposes. There are three factors that contribute to a good performance test: (i) validity; (ii) reliability; and (iii) sensitivity. A valid protocol is one that resembles the performance that is being simulated as closely as possible. When investigating race-type events, the two most common protocols are time to exhaustion and time trials. Time trials have greater validity than time to exhaustion because they provide a good physiological simulation of actual performance and correlate with actual performance. Sports such as soccer are more difficult to simulate. While shuttle-running protocols such as the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test may simulate physiology of soccer using time to exhaustion or distance covered, it is not a valid measure of soccer performance. There is a need to include measures of skill in such protocols. Reliability is the variation of a protocol. Research has shown that time-to-exhaustion protocols have a coefficient of variation (CV) of >10%, whereas time trials are more reliable as they have been shown to have a CV of <5%. A sensitive protocol is one that is able to detect small, but important, changes in performance. The difference between finishing first and second in a sporting event is <1%. Therefore, it is important to be able to detect small changes with performance protocols. A quantitative value of sensitivity may be accomplished through the signal : noise ratio, where the signal is the percentage improvement in performance and the noise is the CV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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