The role of the referee in youth soccer

Officiating at youth football matches involves a lot more than simply applying the Laws of the Game.

Refereeing a match involving children requires tact, a sense of humour, an ability to temper the Laws with common sense, a desire to make the occasion as enjoyable as possible and a strong focus on the health and safety of the players.

Keep it safe

1. The pitch

Whether you’re a qualified, neutral referee or a parent who has been “persuaded” to officiate, you need to arrive at the ground in plenty of time to inspect the pitch properly.

If it’s cold and frosty, look at every part of the pitch very carefully. Wear boots/cleats during your inspection and pay particular attention to the goalmouths and centre circle. But even if these areas are playable you should call the game off if any other part of the pitch, no matter how small, is too hard to “take a stud”.

Check for holes in the pitch and ask that they be repaired before play begins and also ask for any debris, especially animal faeces, to be removed.

2. Goal post safety

A child being seriously injured or worse, losing their life, is the worst possible thing that could happen during a youth football match.

Yet hundreds of children have suffered major injuries and, sadly, many have died as a direct result of insecure or damaged football goals falling on top of them.

We don’t want any more headlines like these:

“Goalie had football goal blown on top of her by a gust of wind. She suffered fractures to both legs.”

“Ten-year-old Hayden Barnes Ellias died while playing goalkeeper for the Winchester United U11s team when the goal fell on top of him.”[1]

So please make sure you inspect the goals and refuse to let the match take place unless they are firmly anchored to the ground and free of defects.

And if a goal is damaged during the game, the match must be abandoned. Do not allow temporary repairs to be made.

Make it fun

The role of a referee in youth football is very much that of a “game leader” rather than on official.

Flexibility and friendliness should be combined with instruction at appropriate moments.

Incorrect throw-ins, for example, need not be penalised immediately. If a seven-year-old lifts her foot off the ground an inch or two or steps onto the pitch while taking a throw-in, it is sensible to explain the correct method and give her another chance.

It’s best not to try to coach while officiating but offering advice and saying “well done” to players who show good sportsmanship or good skills helps create a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

And having a quiet word with players who get overexcited, even if no foul has been committed, can help avoid fouls and injuries later in the game.

Keep it fair

It goes without saying that the Laws should be applied consistently but it’s also important that you aren’t seen to be too friendly with one team or coach.

If you are a parent referee, avoid using first names if you have to speak to your child’s team mates and discourage your son or daughter from asking “dad” to tie up boot laces when you’ve got the whistle in your hand!

Look the part

If you have a referee’s outfit, wear it. If you don’t, wear a smart tracksuit or plain football kit.

Appropriate footwear is a must – nothing amuses players more than seeing the ref sliding around on a muddy pitch in trainers!

Be a role model

Always be polite when speaking to players, coaches and spectators. Speak to others as you would wish to be spoken to.

If you are being criticised, stay calm. Explain your actions if you feel it’s necessary but don’t allow yourself to be abused. If a parent or coach oversteps the mark, you are quite entitled to stop the match and insist they are quiet and if they won’t, ask them to leave the area.

You can show young players that referees are human by acknowledging any mistakes you make (and you WILL make some!) but try to learn from your mistakes too. Don’t keep making the same error over and over again.

Finally, remember that youth football is only a game. It’s supposed to be fun, not serious.

So don’t forget to smile!

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.

Have mercy!

Parents, managers, coaches and players who end up on the wrong end of a thrashing can experience a variety of emotions such as anger, sadness, worthlessness and embarrassment.

“Losing 13-0 as a player makes you feel rubbish, and puts the pressure on you in many ways. You want to win the next game badly… so people don’t start to mock you.” (A 10-year-old player).

Losing by big margins can even result in players and their managers/coaches giving up the game and it’s pretty obvious that scoring goals virtually at will is not going to do anything for the development of the players on the winning team. And children on the receiving end of a 30-0 stuffing are only learning that they’re not as good as the other team.

So what can we do about it?

Some leagues have tried to introduce “mercy rules” or sanctions against teams that win by “too many” goals.

In Canada, one league actually brought in a rule under which any team that outscored its opponent by more than five goals was declared the loser!

Following an outcry from the clubs, this rule was rescinded and the league introduced a more traditional mercy rule instead. This stated that matches would be stopped once one team had a lead of eight goals. Whichever team was ahead at that time would be credited with the win and teams could then play on for “player development”.

Mercy rules like this do not meet with universal approval. Many take the view that making up rules that prevent big scores just sets children up for disappointment later on. “Life’s not fair, learn to deal with it!” is a fairly common reaction.

But regardless of whether the league your team plays in has a mercy rule or not, there is lot that you, as a winning coach, can do to turn a grossly one-sided contest into a learning experience for your players.

If your team is five or six goals up before half time, you’re going to win the match. To the best of my knowledge, no team (and I am prepared to be corrected here!) has ever come back from being 5-0 down in a league or cup match.

So the game is yours. There is really no need to score any more goals even if your league takes goal difference into account. Instead, you can put some meaning into the remainder of the playing time by taking one or more of these actions:
Tell your players to take no more than two or three touches of the ball before passing

Children who are playing in a team that is considerably superior to their opponents often try to show off. They usually become reluctant to pass, (‘I want to score another goal!’) and try to dribble the ball into the back of the net. This is not going to do them any good in the long term so why not impose a maximum touches rule?

But this has to done discreetly! Shouting the instruction “two touch only!” across the field would be very embarrassing for the losing team. It could even be interpreted as making fun of them.
Require a minimum number of passes before shooting

In other words, play keepaway. Ask your players (again, discreetly) to make four or five passes before they can take a shot at goal.

Move your players around

Your goalkeeper will be getting bored by now so get her out of goal and put her up front. Move your defenders into attacking positions and put your strikers into defence.

Use your subs

This type of match is an ideal opportunity to give your subs as much playing time as possible.

As soon as you see that the match is going to be one sided, take off your “star players” and give your weaker players a chance to enjoy themselves.

Allow the other team to have additional players or take some of your players off

If you’re in a winning position at half time you can have a quiet word with the opposition manager and see if he wants to put an extra player or two on the pitch in the second half.

Or (and this isn’t something I would do) you can make the contest more even by taking off one or two of your players. Personally, I think it isn’t really fair on your players to restrict their playing time in this way but it is an option.

Stop the match (the mercy rule)

If the match turns into a shooting gallery during the second half you can stop the game, balance the teams by mixing them up and play any remaining time as a friendly.

Whatever you decide to do, it is imperative that you respect the opposition and always keep the English FA’s Code of Conduct for grassroots coaches in mind: “Place the well-being, safety and enjoyment of each player above everything, including winning”.

How to play the TTT way

“Simple football is beautiful. But playing simple football is the hardest thing to do.” Johan Cruyff

TTT (Total Tika Taka) is a combination of Total Football and Tika Taka – a fast, short passing style of play by players who are not limited to playing in one position on the pitch.

It’s an exciting way of playing that has it’s roots in Total Football, pioneered by Dutch football club Ajax Amsterdam in the 1970s.

In Total Football, a player who moves out of her starting position is replaced by another player, thus retaining the team’s original structure. Anyone can be an attacker, a midfielder or a defender depending on the requirements of the game at a particular moment.

Tika Taka is more recent. It’s the name of the fast, short passing style of play primarily associated with La Liga club FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team under managers Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque. Anyone who has watched Barca or the Spanish team will know how devastatingly effective Tika Taka (or “touch touch”) can be.

Having a team that plays like Ajax and Barcelona rolled into one may seem wildly overambitious to an U8s coach! But really there is no reason why children can’t play in this way… other than the preoccupation that most youth football coaches have with formations and playing children in fixed positions.

The common focus on formations and planting players in specific positions is not good for young players. It stems from the desire to win matches – rather than teach children how to play football – but it often results in young players becoming what Manny Schellscheidt (ex-USA national team coach) calls “position stuck”.

“When they don’t know exactly what to do,” Schellscheidt says, “they go to the spot they’re most familiar with, regardless of what the game is asking for.”

But, I hear you say, surely you need to have players in certain positions?

Well, yes you do. But you also need to remember that football, although it is played with a ball, is really a game that is played without a ball for 90% of the time.

And unlike some other ball games, (baseball, for example), football does not (or should not) have fixed positions except, perhaps, for the goalkeeper. Instead of having limited responsibilities, players – even U8s – have jobs to do that change as the game progresses around them.

So what does this mean in practice?

Improving your players’ ball control, especially their first touch, should be the focus of 90% of coaching sessions.

How to improve your players’ ball control

Players should be taught to receive and move the ball with all parts of both feet and be encouraged to move to a supporting position immediately after passing the ball.

How to coach movement off the ball

Teach the core skills of passing, shooting and tackling, and explain the various positions on the pitch but minimise the importance of formations and tactics. Players should not be labelled as a “defender”, “attacker” or “midfielder”.

TTT games

Pass and move drills such as Shuttle Passing are useful for embedding basic ball skills while simple keepaway games are excellent for encouraging players to switch positions with each other.

Small-sided games (SSGs) such as the 1-0 Game, the Four Goal Game and the Liverpool Game will help your players learn to use the spaces on the pitch to their advantage and also encourage them to pass and move quickly.

It’s up to you!

While these games and drills will help your team learn the TTT style of play, the biggest factor in their success will be your willingness to accept the fact that allowing your players the freedom of the pitch and discouraging them from playing the long ball is going to result in lost matches in the short term.

But over time, your players will learn how to play football – not just how to win games – and they’ll have a lot of fun doing it!

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.

What is soccer?

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, but he still only has one eye.”
Johan Cruyff

While that sounds like a simple question a quick look at many practice fields reveals a bewildering answer. Many practices find children facing situations that they never see in an actual match. This should lead a coach to evaluate the practice by first asking, “is it soccer?”

Soccer is a game. The children are involved in an activity that pits them against an opponent. It is, in most cases, about winning and losing, competition and cooperation. It is also a leisure activity. The children are there because they want to be there. They want to play a game.

To play a game of soccer you first need a ball. Then an opponent. Add a field, a couple of goals across from each other, mix in a few soccer rules and you have a game of 1v1. But this is hard work and you can’t play it for very long. So you get some teammates, and to keep it fair, a few more opponents. With these elements you can play soccer all day.

These are the elements of soccer. They make the game what it is. If you remove a key element such as the ball or opponent it can’t be soccer. Likewise, to change an element too much you can move too far from the game. Playing with two balls or three teams might be fun and a game, but is it soccer? To pass a football across a grid and run to a corner involves kicking techniques, but is it soccer?

Soccer also involves the element “chaos.” Opponents, team mates and the ball are all moving in different directions. Players, parents and coaches are shouting different instructions and information. Bringing “order out of chaos” is an important skill in learning how to play the game.

Soccer is a game with certain elements. There must be a ball, teammates and opponents, a field with boundaries, goals opposite each other and soccer rules.

A soccer coach coaches soccer, not something else. This thought is at the heart of the Dutch Vision.

A practice is either soccer, soccer like or soccer strange.

The three moments of soccer

Every second of every soccer game belongs to one of the ‘three moments of soccer’

The ‘3 moments of soccer’ is a concept born in the Dutch soccer schools of the 1970s. They are:

  1. Own possession (when you have the ball)
  2. Transition (when the ball is won or lost)
  3. Opposition possession (when the other team has the ball)

It is important that your players understand this concept (the ‘meaning of the game’) and what each moment means in terms of ‘general principles’ and the team’s game plan.

I have also included some suggestions regarding individual responsibilities during each moment at 7 a side. These can be easily amended for other formats.

Own Possession.

The game plan during own possession is to move the football downfield so that chances can be created (the build-up) and to score goals.

General Principles are: Create as much space as possible, both width and depth; Aim to get forward – play the ball deep when possible (first choice); keep possession, this is vital to the objectives of the game; if you can’t play forward, play square to prepare for a forward pass; try to maintain good formation.

1 Keeper. Positions himself in relation to the defender. Restarts play (roll, throw kick). Act as central build-up player (an extra field player).

2 and 4 Full-backs. Position well apart, make the playing area as wide as possible. Play the ball to the attackers. If there is room move forward with the ball. Participate in the attack.

3 Central Defender. Position between attackers and full backs. Play the ball to the attackers or defenders who are participating in the attack. If there is space go forward with the ball. Take part in the attack. Try to score if the opportunity arises.

5 and 7 Wing (Outside) forwards. Position in relation to defenders to make the playing area as long as possible. Take the ball towards the opposition goal as quickly as possible, individual run, or pass to a teammate who has a clear run on goal. Take up position in front of goal to be available to receive a pass and score. Try to score.

6 Centre Forward. Position as far forward as possible (make playing area long), while still being in a position to receive a pass. Try to score, individual run or exchanging passes with a teammate. Go to goal.

Opposition in Possession

Game Plan. Disrupt the opposition build-up. Win the ball back. Stop the opposition from scoring.
How? Make the field of play as small as possible, depending on the strength of the opposition; move towards the ball (pressing), move towards own goal (fall back), Push towards the sideling (squeezing). Pressure the ball carrier. Mark closely when in the vicinity of the ball. Positional/zonal marking further from the ball. Stay useful as long as possible.

Note. The Game plan will not be achieved if you foul, so avoid giving away free kicks.

1. Keeper. Prevent opposition scoring. Position in relation to the ball, opposition players and teammates.
2 and 4 Full backs. Prime task – DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE BEATEN; prevent opposition from scoring. Cover the opposing attackers. Help teammates, cover their backs. Win the ball.

3 Central defender. Prime task – DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE BEATEN; prevent opposition from scoring. Cover the opposition centre forward. Help teammates, cover their backs. Make the playing area as small as possible. Win the ball.

5 and 7 Outside forwards. Disrupt opposition build-up. Win the ball. Help teammates, cover their backs. Make the playing area as small as possible. Don’t let the player with ball pass you.

6 Centre forward. Cover the opposing central defender (he is expected to come forward). Win the ball. Help teammates, cover their backs. Make the playing area as small as possible. Don’t let the player with ball pass you.

Game Plan. Switch game plan from own possession to opposition possession (or vice versa) as quickly as possible.


1. Loss of possession. Player nearest to the ball tries to stop it being played forward by pressuring the player on the ball, forcing him to play square, hold the ball, run with it or pass back. All players contribute to preventing a goal by squeezing the opposing players (prevent them moving inside). Block the shot. Take up a position which will avoid any direct threat (pressing). Mark tight close to the ball if enough teammates are available (delaying). Positional/zonal marking if not enough teammates are available (delaying, do not dive in, do not get passed).

2. Winning the ball. The player winning the ball (interception, tackle etc) looks first to playing the ball forward. Players further away ask for the ball (avoiding offside). Player gaining possession can push the ball forward into space and run into it himself to negate the offside trap (depending on starting position). Spread out to create as much space as possible. Try to stay out of the opponents’ field of vision. Be useful by taking the initiative and anticipating where the ball will go, including dummy runs to draw attention away from teammates.

3. From defence to attack – how to get the ball from your penalty area to the opponents’ penalty area. The quickest way is the long ball (route one). But this requires certain preconditions: Good kicking technique (speed, height and direction); the player must have time and space to make the kick (not easy when opponents are near; communication between kicker and receiver; kicker must recognize the moment when the deep ball can be played. The second way is using good positional play to enable the long ball. This requires knowledge of the purpose of positional play. Players must take position relative to the opposition players and the space available in such a way as to create opportunities to play the long ball. Whether or not the long ball will be played rest on whether or not a teammate gets into the right position at the right time. The quality of positional play can be improved by moving the ball faster (opponents have to run more), taking positions at the right time, taking the right position (not too close, not too far away).

4. From attack to defence after losing possession (in depth principles of 1).
General principles are; player nearest the ball must do all that he can to prevent the long ball, this could be the player who has just lost the ball, but often he is not in a good position to do so and another player must take this task; All players must switch immediately to defensive mode, there is no time for emotions such as disappointment at losing the ball or anger with the player who has lost the ball, players close to the ball mark tightly. further away close down space, cover teammates and mark zonally; The sweeper (or last man) must decide if he is going to push up and play the offside trap or fall back and deprive the striker of space (risky with a flat back four and requires good coordination); keeper can act as extra sweeper by coming out of penalty area; if there are too few players near the ball (e.g. you have been hit on the break) players must take up zonal covering positions and delay the opponents by good positional play and pressing up towards the ball so that stranded players can get back into useful positions.

When your are attacking there must always be a good balance between those actively involved in the attack and those holding back to clean up if possession is lost.

Finally, the general principle is deny the opposition space to play (push up towards the ball), be ready (and able) to use the offside trap, close down space and most importantly do not get passed – remain useful for as long as possible.

Solving soccer problems with free form games

soccer problem

When a practice has to ” reload ” to a specific starting point it can slow down the activity. This can be good if that time is used to digest what is being learned. But, it can effect the players enjoyment and concentration as the game may not build to a truly competitive level. The constant start and stop might become boring. There are also moments that cannot be effectively coached from a static start. The nature of the soccer problem is dynamic and unpredictable. Some of these moments and their solutions are presented below.

Soccer Problem: The team as a whole fails to build up properly after they win possession. Too many players attempt to “win the game” with the first pass or try to beat the opponents with a dribble when they gain possession. The moment, winning possession, is the event that triggers the soccer problem. One method to deal with this would be to construct a game with a rule that would encourage composed play. Before a team can score a goal they must make three passes without the opponents touching the ball. Now, when they win the ball their first thought must be to get the passes in. The value is on composed build up.

Soccer Problem: Several players are content with kicking the ball out of play. They are unwilling or incapable of attempting to build up play. Try a rule that each time a team gives away a corner or a throw-in the other team gets an “out.” When a team gets three “outs” they get a goal. This puts a high value on keeping the ball in play and a consequence on choosing the easy alternative.

Soccer Problem: The midfielders don’t get back for their basic defensive responsibilities. The sweeper is left alone to handle a numbers down situation on too many occasions. To tell a player to always stay back shackles the players with a “coaches” solution. It is a players problem and requires a players solution.

soccer problem

In this game there are three zones. If a team scores and there is only one defender in his back zone, closest to his own goal, the scoring team gets three points for the goal. If there are two defenders in the back zone the goal gets one point. In this example the blue number 7 has a 1v1 against the orange number 3. The orange numbers 6 & 8 must communicate to solve this problem. The solution is up to the players.

Soccer Problem: Several players take too long to reach a decision when on the ball. They either kill the game through slow, indecisive play or hold the ball too long and go off on exploratory runs. Build a game with 2 touch ball can’t stop as a rule. Here, the players can use one or two touches but they cannot let the ball come to a rest. They have as much time to make a decision and play as a rolling ball will allow.

Even smaller sided games (ESSGs)


A lot has been made about 4v4 and its relationship to football (soccer). When you accept that “a soccer coach coaches soccer, not something else” and that “4v4 is the smallest form of real soccer” it appears that 4v4 is the smallest game that a coach should use. This is not the case. There are several situations and reasons why small sided games should be smaller than 4v4.

Age/soccer age. When children are introduced to soccer at 4 or 5 years of age, parents and coaches can confuse the activity with the sport. Soccer is a complex game when you take into account the role that insight and communication plays in it. Children at this age lack the intellectual capabilities to grasp the objectives and meaning of the game. Socially, they are concerned with themselves and can’t get past “I, me, mine.” They are not “playing soccer,” but using soccer to develop skills. For them, 4v4 is too big and too complex.

For older children being introduced to the game there is a different problem. While they may have the mental and social skills to understand the objectives and are able to work together they lack the necessary tools to execute their decisions. Their speed of play are not up to the level necessary to play “real soccer.” They either expend too much energy or might even “shut down” when they are faced with too much resistance. This is the fight or flight response to stress. Reducing the numbers below 4v4 is a good way for them to become comfortable to the game.

Even older, experienced players can benefit from smaller games. Demands can be made that focus on specific problems, especially 1v1 skills and self confidence. Better communication skills can be developed, responsibility and ownership for tasks can be highlighted and improved in these soccer like games. The basic skills needed for teamwork can be quickly developed.

The following demonstrate how numbers below 4v4 effect and contribute to the learning environment inside of the games. When these numbers are combined with different goals and rules a general lesson, such as speed of play, can be presented with considerable variety.

2 vs 2 Basic Game


Team work starts with two. If players cannot solve the simple problems they face with a partner they will not be able to function in any larger team context. Therefore, 2v2 in modified forms (different goals and rules,) offers them opportunities to learn how to work together in the four main moments. At this level the concepts of zonal play and man to man marking can be introduced. Players learn that, in a team, they can share responsibilities and are dependent on each other. They are constantly involved in the play, either with the ball or in a helping role, (sometimes by staying out of the way.) They can come up with their own plans and responsibility/ownership falls on “you or me.” Accountability is very clear.

A basic requirement in soccer is being able to handle both sides of 1v1. In 2v2 the players are constantly exposed to this moment. The difference between these situations is that in straight 1v1 the “game” is over very quickly and players “must beat” their opponent or they fail. This produces a high stress situation. 2v2 offers players the option of choosing the moment when to take on their opponent or simply keep possession of the ball. This lowers the stress level which can enhance the learning environment.

3v3 Basic Game

Bunch ball is a constant problem in youth soccer. This results from the players inability to maintain their shape. The distance and angles between the players is lost and, as a team, they are not able to work together efficiently. Since three players make the smallest shape, a triangle, 3v3 games in modified forms are an excellent way to introduce this concept. There are still lots of 1v1 opportunities and the basic lessons from 2v2 can be expanded and built on. 3v3 also guarantees that there is open space somewhere on the field.

Uneven Numbers Act as a Bridge

Going from 2v2 to 3v3, or 3v3 to 4v4 may prove to be difficult for some players. In this case uneven numbers can be a bridge to help them get across the learning gulf. One objective in these games is to help players learn how to use the new situations that larger numbers create against lower resistance. Do they use each other in the most team efficient manner? Do they take advantage of the opportunities presented in the game? Do the players recognize when they are numbers up and have that advantage? Do they understand how to adjust the game when they are numbers down? Games with uneven numbers can be modified, goals or rules, to help maintain a competitive balance.

Neutral Players

By using a neutral player, (they play for both teams giving each a numerical advantage when in possession, in the example above the yellow number 8 the players can get a basic grasp of ideas against less resistance. The coach can play this role so long as they are better than the players and don’t create a problem themselves. Since neutral players don’t have any defensive responsibilities they shouldn’t be overused.

Here’s a short YouTube video that looks at how adding and subtracting players at this level dramatically changes the game.

The beep test

Beep test

Get young soccer players fit and have fun at the same time!

“My players really enjoy the challenge of the Beep Test so I thought I’d share it with you. This article (kindly provided by Brian Mackenzie) describes how it’s done.”

The beep test, (properly known as the Multi-Stage Fitness Test and sometimes as the Yo-Yo Test), was developed by Jens Bangsbo, August Krogh Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The objective of the Multi-Stage Fitness Test (MSFT) is to monitor the development of the athlete’s maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max).

This test is very good for young football players as the short turns are specific to the nature of the sport.

Required Resources

To undertake this test you will require :

A flat, non slippery surface at least 20 metres in length
30 metre tape measure
Marking cones
Pre-recorded beep test audio tape or CD
Tape recorder or CD Player
Recording sheets

How to conduct the test

The test is made up of 23 levels where each level lasts approx. one minute. Each level comprises of a series of 20m shuttles where the starting speed is 8.5km/hr and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level. On the tape a single beep indicates the end of a shuttle and 3 beeps indicates the start of the next level. The test is conducted as follows:

  • Measure out a 20 metres section and mark each end with a marker cone.
  • The athlete carries out a warm up program of jogging and stretching exercises.
  • The athlete must place one foot on or beyond the 20m marker at the end of each shuttle.
  • If the athlete arrives at the end of a shuttle before the beep, the athlete must wait for the beep and then resume running.
  • The athlete keeps running for as long as possible until he/she can longer keep up with the speed set by the tape at which point they should voluntarily withdraw.
  • If the athlete fails to reach the end of the shuttle before the beep they should be allowed 2 or 3 further shuttles to attempt to regain the required pace before being withdrawn.
  • Record the level and number of shuttles completed at that level by the athlete.

At the end of the test the athletes conduct a warm down


Analysis of the result is by comparing it with the results of previous tests. It is expected that, with appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement.

Normative data for MSFT

The following are national team scores on the MSFT

Beep test

Table Reference: Beashel P. et al; The world of sport examined; 1997


A degree of caution is required in administering the test, in that you have to push yourself relatively hard to the point where you can no longer maintain the pace dictated by the tape. If you are suffering from any injury or illness, or if you have any reason to think you may not be in a good general state of health, you should consult a doctor before doing this test.

As the audio-tapes may stretch over time, the tapes need to be calibrated which involves timing a one-minute interval and making adjustment to the distance between markers. The recording is also available on compact disc, which does not require calibration.

Knowing that the starting speed is 8.5km/hr and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level then the time for each 20 metre section, at each level, can be estimated from the following equation:

20m Time = 72 ÷ ( ( ( Level – 1 ) × 0.5 ) + 8.5 )

The time for 20m at level 11 is 5.33 seconds.

Knowing that the starting speed is 8.5km/hr and increases by 0.5km/hr at each level and the duration of each level is approximately one minute then the number of shuttles at each level, can be estimated from the following equation:

Shuttles = ( ( ( Level – 1 ) × 0.5 ) + 8.5 ) × 0.838

The result is rounded up to the nearest whole number e.g. the number of shuttles at level 17 is 13.82 which is rounded up to 14 shuttles.

Target Group

This test is suitable for endurance athletes and players of endurance sports (e.g. football, rugby) but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.


Reliability would depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual’s level of motivation to perform the test.