Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Score On The Yoyo Intermittent Recovery Test

Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Score On The Yoyo Intermittent Recovery Test
By John Spurlock

The Yoyo Intermittent Recovery Test (YIRT) is a fitness test used by many soccer clubs and programs around the world. The test consists of an athlete performing multiple 40-meter shuttles (20m X 20m) with their score equaling the number of successful shuttles completed. The pace of each shuttle is dictated by a CD/audio file and progressively increases as an athlete advances further into the test. Unlike the traditional Beep Test, the YIRT gives the athlete 10 seconds of recovery time between each shuttle. When the athlete is not able to complete a shuttle at the dictated pace, the test is over.
Scoring high on the YIRT is a direct way to show your coach (or potential coach) that you’ve worked hard on your fitness and you’re physically ready to play the game. Below are the top 5 ways to improve your YIRT score:

  1. React to the “go!” and go hard off the line. As you progress further and further into the test, you will become fatigued with the increasing pace of the shuttles. When fatigue sets in you must overcome the urge to bend over and put your hands on your knees. It is crucial that you put yourself in a good staggered stance starting position and quickly react to the “go!” command at the beginning of every shuttle. Reacting quickly and sprinting hard off the start line will put you at a huge advantage because you will most likely put yourself ahead of the pace. This will allow you to slow down at the end of the shuttle, thus conserving energy for the upcoming shuttles.
  2. Improve sprinting speed. One factor that can cause an athlete to have a poor YIRT score is that they cannot sprint fast enough at the higher levels. There are several ways to improve sprinting speed. At Central Kentucky Weightlifting, we improve speed by teaching proper sprinting mechanics, as well as using a variety of speed drills and strength training. Our speed drills consist of using sleds and Jump Stretch bands to perform resisted and assisted running drills across a wide range of distances. Because sprinting is a bodyweight exercise, the main focus of our strength training is to increase the athlete’s relative lower body strength. We use several exercises to achieve this result, such as Olympic lifts, squats, and lunges.
  3. Run in straight lines. No U-turns! At the 20-meter mark, the athlete must make a 180-degree turn and sprint back to the start/finish line. The shortest and fastest way to get back to the start/finish line is to make a sharp cut and sprint straight back. If the athlete has never been taught how to change direction properly or becomes sloppy with the change of direction when fatigued, they will start “rounding” this turn, making a U-turn. The U-turn technique is inefficient because it increases the number of steps taken between the 20-meter mark and the start/finish line, thus wasting energy and causing a slower shuttle time. By concentrating on eliminating U-turns and sprinting in straight lines, an improvement in your score will be seen.       
  4. Change direction on both legs. Every athlete has a dominant side, which is typically their preferred leg to change direction. However, making sharp repeated cuts on the same leg can cause premature fatigue. To avoid this, alternate which leg you change direction on (i.e. on the first shuttle change direction facing the right side of the field, but on the second shuttle change direction facing the left side of the field). This concept is sometimes easier said then done when an athlete is not used to making sharp cuts on their non-dominant leg during a fast paced shuttle. At Central Kentucky Weightlifting, we develop our athletes’ ability to change direction effectively and efficiently on both legs at all degrees of turns. 
  5. Reduce recovery time to improve fitness. Even with the knowledge of the above 4 tips, you must be able to recover quickly after a fast paced shuttle to produce a high score on the YIRT. Your ability to recover is directly related to your fitness (VO2max). A simple way to improve your fitness is to progressively reduce the amount of recovery time between conditioning runs. An increased fitness level will lead to an improved YIRT score. Below is an example of how this can be accomplished in a 3-week conditioning cycle of four 200-yard shuttles:
Week #1: 200(1); 90 seconds recovery; 200(2); 90 seconds recovery; 200(3); 90 seconds recovery; 200(4) – Total recovery time = 4:30
Week #2: 200(1); 60 seconds recovery; 200(2); 75 seconds recovery; 200(3); 90 seconds recovery; 200(4) – Total recovery time = 3:45
Week #3: 200(1); 60 seconds recovery; 200(2); 60 seconds recovery; 200(3); 60 seconds recovery; 200(4) – Total recovery time = 3:00

For more information on how to score higher on the YIRT or any conditioning test, contact Central Kentucky Weightlifting today!