At the start of training camp each year, we hear about which players passed and failed their team's conditioning test. You might remember four years ago the Jets called off a trade for tackle Jeff Otah because he could not pass a conditioning test.
What exactly is a conditioning test, though?
Former NFL player Matt Bowen explained in an article for the National Football Post back in 2010.
They haven’t changed much. When I played it was a 300-yard shuttle. In different combinations (some require six 50-yard sprints and others require twelve 25-yard sprints), they add up to 300 total yards. Think of old-school gassers. Run, touch the line, and come back — over and over until you have run a total of 300 yards. Rest in between sets and get back on the line. The times are broken down into three position groups: skill (WR, DB, RB), semi-skill (LB, TE, QB) and linemen (OL, DL). Each group has a time they have to complete each set in.
In Green Bay under Mike Sherman, you ran three of them — with about a two minute rest in between. They are nasty. For the skill guys, the time limit was under 48 seconds. We ran the 300-yard shuttle — made up of six 50-yard sprints — took that small rest and got ready to do it again. By the end, your legs feel like Jell-O.
It does seem to vary by team. If last year is any indication, Todd Bowles' conditioning test seems to be more demanding than Bowen described.
It's 95 degrees. The Jets held conditioning test -- 50 yds, 20 times -- on outdoor field. Do you think you could do it? Just curious.— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) July 29, 2015
That is more than the 600 yards described. It adds up to 1,000 yards.
The test is a big deal. If you fail, you typically can't practice. It isn't easy, but these are professional athletes who have around seven months in the offseason to get their bodies into top physical condition and are paid handsomely to do so.
Frequently you will hear coaches talk about being fine with players missing optional offseason workouts as long as the players are doing the necessary training on their own. It is likely not a good look for a guy who skips the optional stuff in the offseason to fail his conditioning test. Then again, failing the test for any uninjured player isn't a good look.