In the early days of training camp, you will likely hear talk about players passing or failing their conditioning test. Players typically need to pass the test to begin practicing.
What is this test? It varies by team, but generally speaking it is a series of sprints which need to be completed in a certain amount of time depending on your position group.
Years ago former player Matt Bowen offered an explanation.
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 varies by team and coaching staff. The Ravens under John Harbaugh have been known to have six 150 yard tests, adding up to 900 yards total.
Players are required to run 150 yards six times, and different position groups are assigned varying target times.
The first interval requires players to run 25 yards up and back, three times, for a total of 150 yards.
One heat is a player starting at the goal line, sprinting to the 25-yard line and back three times. That’s 150 yards. Then they get a rest before darting out again. Six times.
If you fail to make your time in any of the six legs, you flunk the whole test.
Conditioning tests can have major consequences. You might remember five years ago Jeff Otah’s inability to pass a test led to his trade to the Jets from Carolina being voided.
As you may know, most offseason practices are voluntary. Skipping them is generally not a big deal, but failing your conditioning tests after skipping the offseason program is a good way to get your coach angry.