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The start of the netball year means one thing for many clubs, teams and players: fitness testing.

And in recent years the go-to measure of players’ fitness has been the yo-yo test.

If you haven’t experienced the yo-yo test before, it’s a running test that involves players shuttling between two lines, 20 metres apart and at steadily increasing speeds, with short breaks in between. Once you can no longer reach the lines before the next beep, you’re out.

Now, the thought of having to complete the yo-yo at the start of each season sends many players into a tizz, as they’re worried about what their score will be.

But it doesn’t have to, and there are things you can do as a player to increase your chances of improving your best score.

Back in my playing days I had a best result of level 21, and there were a few things I always included both before and during the test to give myself the best chance of performing well.

Here are a few tips for you to take into your next yo-yo.


At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for training when it comes to improving your fitness and your yo-yo test result.

If you haven’t run a single step since your last game or last test, don’t expect the result to change.


Completing a conditioning program consistently is the most surefire way to boost your score – you’ll need 4-6 weeks of solid training before you’ll start to see results.

The yo-yo test is high intensity, so ensure you include high intensity running in your program – finish each run with some repeated shuttle sprints, or complete a weekly interval session where your effort fluctuates between periods of high workrate, and periods of recovery.


Part of the knack of performing well in the yo-yo test is being comfortable with what the test entails.

Practising it a few times in the weeks before the final test is a great way to get used to the beeps, the rest periods, how many shuttles are in each level and how each level will feel.

You can download your own copy of the yo-yo test here.


Don’t go into the yo-yo cold.

And this doesn’t just mean do your regular warmup.

In the yo-yo test you’ll be asking your body to reach a very high level of effort very quickly, and it won’t always respond well if you ask your heart and lungs to make too big a jump.

So try to have your heart rate elevated when you start. Complete a few extra run-throughs in the minutes before you start the test, so that your body isn’t shocked when the speed starts to increase.


This is a big one that very few players think about.

During the yo-yo your legs will take off and push off dozens of times. If you always start with the same foot forward, or always push off the same leg at the other end, that leg will run out of puff very quickly, and will likely cost you at least a few shuttles – maybe more.

Try to alternate which leg you take off on at the start of each shuttle, and which one you change direction with at the other end, so that both legs stay as fresh as possible for as long as possible.


Many players’ yo-yo test score will hinge on how well they change direction at the other end.

Players with poor changes of direction will often come out of the turn 3-4 metres behind other competitors, which means they have to work much harder to catch up over the second half of the shuttle, draining their legs. Players who change direction well are often able to ‘switch off’ and coast the last few metres of each shuttle, saving precious energy for later.

Keep those turns as tight as possible (avoiding running in a little semi-circle), push off on one leg and get the other leg down on the floor as quickly as possible to get yourself back up to speed.

Remember, the aim is to slow down as late as possible before the turn, and regain your speed as quickly as possible after it, so think about each of those little technique factors that will help you achieve this.


The 10-second recovery period at the end of each shuttle is there for a reason – after all, the yo-yo is essentially a test of how well your body is able to recover from short bursts of work.

Use those recovery blocks to get in some good, controlled breaths that help to prepare you for the next shuttle, while walking a few metres from the start line and then turning and walking back.

You can’t always control how your body responds during a running test, but you can control your recovery techniques.


There is arguably no greater limiter to your performance than not believing that you can perform.

If you approach the yo-yo thinking you hate it and you won’t do well, you probably won’t. But approach it as a chance to test yourself and prove your fitness, and it’ll be a lot easier to push through some of those higher levels.

Also, if you want to put in a personal best, then yes, getting there is probably going to hurt, so be prepared for that and embrace it.

It always staggers me how many players pull out while they are still successfully making each shuttle, purely because they’ve started to feel a bit uncomfortable.

Coaches love nothing more than seeing players tough it out when their body is starting to falter, so don’t let the first hint of a bit of pain stop you.