Sports Fitness: Decoding the Yo-Yo test

Fitness tests are common in sports. Not only does it help maintain the physical prowess of a player, it also helps selectors judge the player’s capabilities. There are various types of fitness tests and the one which always seems to be on the news is the Yo-Yo test. For the Indian cricket team, players need to reach a minimum criteria in order to pass the test and get selected for the playing XI.

If you’ve played any form of outdoor sports, you’re likely to have come across the Yo-Yo test. You’ve probably even been through it, without realizing what it is or does.

The Yo-Yo test was designed by Jens Bangsbo, a Danish football physiologist. It is an adaptation of a beep test that is employed to judge a player’s aerobic endurance fitness. Besides India, the test is also used by Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies, with each country having set their own benchmarks to qualify.


The test involves a player running between two cones that are placed about 20 meters from each other. Mind you, the test is performed on a flat surface. A player is required to run from one cone to the other as soon as a beep goes off. He must reach the other cone before the second beep. He then has to return to the first cone before the third beep. That makes it one “shuttle.”


According to Cricinfo, players start at speed level 5, which has one shuttle.  Level 11 has two, level 12 has three and level 13 has four. From level 14 onwards, there are eight shuttles. As the test progresses, the time to complete a shuttle gets reduced, forcing players to run faster. Though level 23 is the highest speed level, it hasn’t been achieved by anyone yet.

Of course, all that running will require rest, and players get a ten-second break between shuttles to catch their breath.


If a player doesn’t reach the cone before the beep, he gets his first warning. Three warnings mean he has failed the test.

The Yo-Yo fitness test differs for various sports as each game has its own requirements. According to Andrew Leipus, who was the head physiotherapist at the National Cricket Academy, it helps players deliver better performances as they’ll recover faster on the field.

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