Validity, Reliability and Sensitivity of Measures of Sporting Performance

Abstract

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.

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Notes

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    1 The use of trade names is for product identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement.

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No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Currell, K., Jeukendrup, A.E. Validity, Reliability and Sensitivity of Measures of Sporting Performance. Sports Med 38, 297–316 (2008). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200838040-00003

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Keywords

  • Time Trial
  • Performance Protocol
  • Match Play
  • Cycling Time Trial
  • Repeated Sprint Ability