YO-YO doesn’t mean No-No

Indian hockey’s scientific advisor says test tool to gauge players but not deciding factor

Published: 23rd July 2018 02:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2018 07:06 AM   |  A+A-

Action from the match between India and New Zealand in Bengaluru on Sunday. India won the third and final Test 4-0 to complete a series whitewash | pushkar v

Express News Service

BENGALURU: ON May 8, 2018, Ambati Rayudu found a place in the three-match ODI series against England. In the third week of June, Rayudu had been replaced by Suresh Raina. The former had apparently flunked the yo-yo test, an endurance challenge designed to test an athlete’s fitness. The BCCI had a benchmark score of 16.1 and Rayudu scored below it.

Two more high-profile Indian sports teams — both the hockey sides — use it. But, unlike the Indian cricket team, they do not discriminate based on their yo-yo scores. It is there as a tool to guide Robin Arkell, the side’s scientific advisor, and the rest of the support staff. If any player falls below the unwritten level — a deeply guarded secret — the player isn’t dropped. “The player in question will have to go through an individual protocol and he will have to do extra fitness work to get to that level,” Arkell, who joined the team in 2017, tells Express. “It’s because they will have to be at that standard to perform on the international stage.”

He says it won’t be right to segregate the athlete in question based on yo-yo scores because of the different positional groups in hockey — forwards, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers. “We don’t do any discrimination from our end,” he explains. “As a physical trainer, I want their scores to be as high as possible but what we need to look at are the groups. There will be a slight variance in what we look at depending on what position they play in. Goalkeepers will be different, midfielders will be different and so on.

“Even otherwise, I think there needs to be a balance. You obviously need different components to play hockey. Fitness is obviously a big aspect, so it’s definitely a determinant but I wouldn’t say it’s the be all and end all. You have to be able to trap and stop and be able to execute your skills.” Interestingly, Sumit — who registered the highest yo-yo score (above the 22 mark) two tests before — wasn’t even considered for selection for the Asian Games. Players undergo tests at the beginning of every camp.

One area where both men’s and women’s teams have come up in leaps and bounds is fitness. Just to prove the point further, while the BCCI has set a benchmark of 16.1 to make the national side, it’s reliably learnt that most players in the women’s side average between 18 and 20 and between 21 and 23 in the men’s team, with 3 players scoring over 23. And Arkell, who did his MPhil in Biokinetics from Cape Town University, is obviously pleased with the work the men’s side have done.

“We are at a good space right now. I am not going to give you numbers (comparing India’s level to the likes of Australia and Netherlands) but I think we still have some room for improvement. Since the time I have been here, we have improved and our goal is to be in top shape by the time the World Cup comes around.”

So who is the best in the team now? “I really wouldn’t say that,” he smiles. On the field, the Indian team ran harder and faster than their opponents, New Zealand, on Sunday to win 4-0.

How does the yo-yo test work? Here’s the answer & what is considered as a failure...

Jens Bangsbo,
a Danish scientist.
What happens
Two sets of cones are kept 20m apart and the players shuttle back and forth. The players will have to successfully complete a shuttle (journey from first set to second set & back to the first).
What constitutes
as failure?
When a player fails to complete a shuttle before the third beep. First beep is to start the run, second beep is a guideline to let he/she know that only half the time is remaining. If the player hasn’t reached the start point before the third beep, that’s a first strike. A second strike means the player’s yo-yo is stopped and the results recorded. Rayudu failed it because his score was below the BCCI’s mandated level of 16.1.

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