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Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test for soccer

by Taylor Tollison

The goal of soccer training is improved performance, injury prevention, soccer skills and tactics. Improved performance should never come at the cost of an injured player. Goal #1 is injury prevention in a soccer conditioning program. Goal #2 is to improve performance.

I think all of us have seen a handful of soccer tests for fitness through out the years.  The trick is knowing which one is best for testing fitness in soccer. So how do you really know which test is the right one for testing soccer fitness levels?

First of all, here is a list of 4 possible fitness tests for soccer:

  • Cooper test-12 minute vo2max test. The point of this test is to run as far as possible in the 12 minutes given.
  • 2 mile test - The soccer player usually needs to run the 2 miles under a certain time to pass.
  • Beep test- This is a continuous version of the beep test. That means that the player will never stop running as long as the test is going. They need to get from one set of cones to the next set before or at the beep. The beep test can be used to measure VO2max.
  • Yo Yo Intermittent Recovery Test for soccer- This is a beep test as well but is different than the one above in that you don't run continuously for the whole fitness test. You do a repetition then you rest for a given amount of time. Then you run again. The time to complete each repetition increases as time goes on. The more distance you cover in the Yo Yo test the better the score.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the available soccer fitness tests. The first three listed above have inherent weaknesses built in. First of all, soccer is not a continuous sport in that you are not always jogging through out the game. You sprint, jog then walk then jog again then sprint through the game. That eliminates the first three fitness tests above because they are not specific to soccer. Second, soccer is not run in a straight line, around a track or field. That eliminates the first two tests from being soccer specific as well. So taking into consideration the demands of the game it would be nice to have a test that does not run in a straight line and actually measures the energy systems used in a game.

Lucky for us science has tested the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test and found it suitable for testing soccer fitness. Check out this scientific research about the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test for soccer:

PURPOSE: To examine the physiological response and reproducibility of the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test and its application to elite soccer. METHODS: Heart rate was measured, and metabolites were determined in blood and muscle biopsies obtained before, during, and after the Yo-Yo test in 17 males. Physiological measurements were also performed during a Yo-Yo retest and an exhaustive incremental treadmill test (ITT).

CONCLUSION: The test had a high reproducibility and sensitivity, allowing for detailed analysis of the physical capacity of athletes in intermittent sports. Specifically, the Yo Yo intermittent recovery test was a valid measure of fitness performance in soccer. During the test, the aerobic loading approached maximal values, and the anaerobic energy system was highly taxed. Pubmed


The purpose the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test is to fitness levels of soccer players and more generally, those that player intermittent sports. The Yo-Yo tests the ability to recover after intense exercise.


yo yo test

Which Yo Yo Test to use

There are multiple Yo Yo tests. When testing for soccer make sure you use the Yo Yo Intermittent recovery test. Do not use the Yo Yo endurance test. It is the intermittent recovery version that has been proven for soccer.


Test entire team at once Scientifically proven to be effective for soccer


Players motivation levels play a part in how far they will run during testing. The test is not free and must be purchased.