A new ring tone is ringing in the corridors of Indian Cricket team’s fitness world – Yo Yo. A simple cardiovascular fitness test that tells you about maximum oxygen uptake at the cellular level
has suddenly become talk of the town. In simple words it is a test of stamina where the capacity of one’s VO2 max is judged.
Back in 2008 when I was with the Indian A team, Paul Chapman, the then head strength and conditioning coach first introduced this, “Yo-Yo” test in the National Cricket Academy.
What’s the test all about? You make a 20 metres distance keeping two cones at two sides. One at the start and one at the other end. Make a 5 metres distance from the starting cone and place a cone there. A CD is played and at the start of a beep players need to run to the other end before another beep is sounded. Players need to return to the starting block before another beep and walk or jog the 5 metres distance back and forth which is known as recovery. The time span between one beep to another keeps reducing and so from a moderate jogging at the start a player has to sprint up and down as beep levels increase.
In cricket, Manish Pandey of India does 19.2 level when Virat Kohli did level 19. Steve O’ Keefe of Australia does level 20 while Kagiso Rabada of South Africa level 19.
The test is more used in soccer. And in soccer it is Yo Yo endurance test which is really demanding since there is no recovery between two shuttles. There, a Cristiano Ronaldo reaches level 22 without any break between shuttles.
After having a peek at the toppers of Yo Yo test I beg to ask a question. Should the Yo Yo be a benchmark for overall evaluation of one’s fitness? The answer is no with a capital N. I presume Sanker Basu, the current Indian fitness coach would subscribe to my view.
Cricket is primarily a power sport. Yes you need to run 60-70 singles at a frenetic pace. You need to survive a day which all depends on your cardiovascular fitness. Having said that what if Manish Pandey runs Yo Yo the best and fails the 1 RM bench press test for strength. What if Virat runs 19 level but can hardly hit a four. Back in 2005, when Beep test was used as the cardiovascular test, many top notch Indian cricketers never took the test seriously. The saying goes Sachin Tendulkar would himself drop out after level 5, which is way below passing level. How can you question Sachin’s cardio endurance as he scored 51 test hundreds?
Not many know that there are a string of fitness tests which is used in the Indian cricket team. It is a combination of strength, power, flexibility, core and cardio endurance test. So it’s a big folly to surmise that failing the Yo Yo makes you unfit. An overall assessment makes one fit or unfit.
One top notch strength coach once said, “In a team sport would you set a standardised bench mark for fitness test? If you speak about writing the fitness regimen of one player according to his/her level of fitness then how do you expect that every player will live up to the benchmark set.”
Bang on target. And I would throw this view for an open debate.
(Chinmoy Roy is a veteran fitness expert & trainer and has been associated in different capacities with Indian and Bengal cricket for decades.)