Should I standardize my pre-testing protocol?

Yes.

It is best practice in the academic setting to control as many variables as possible in order to gain a clearer understanding of the variable that is changing. 

In the applied setting you should also aim to standardize as much as you can, however it can be more challenging due to changes in training times, duration, and schedules surrounding your training/testing.

If you are testing intermittently and have an entire day designated to testing this may be easier. If you test daily in your training environment and have a rotation of pre lift exercises then we suggest at minimum keeping the flow of things consistent. 

For example, your pre testing flow may look like this:

  1. Dynamic Warmup (stays consistent daily)
  2. Activation (varies day to day, but the principles stay the same)
    1. E.g. submaximal jumping, overhead medball throws, hurdle jumps
  3. Training Session Begins.

In the scenario above we suggest that you either complete all testing after the dynamic warmup or after the activation portion of your training session. This was all of the athletes are testing under the same conditions. 

Tip from a user:

  • The University of Illinois Basketball Team tests daily on their force plates during their training sessions. 
  • After the dynamic warmup and the activation series, the athletes start their warmup sets in their main lift for the day (usually always a lower body movement first). While each athlete is hitting their warmup sets (monitored by a coach) another coach is calling over the athletes in small groups and having them test on the force plates. 
  • At this point each athlete has gone through the entire dynamic warmup, activation, and also has hit a couple lower body warmup sets. Their systems are all equally primed and ready to produce a maximal jump (2-3x per day).
  • The flow of this remains the same daily, monthly, & yearly. Slowly the team accumulates hundreds of data points on each player and is now able to dictate training based off of daily fluctuations in force plate metrics; as well as seeing progress over the course of the year. 

Need help designing a warmup? Dr. John McMahon explains his warmup in 2-minutes here.