In this article, we’re going to cover what the pro agility test is, how to perform the test and provide normative data for athletes competing in various sports and at various levels.
What is the Pro Agility Test?
The Pro Agility test, also known as the 5-10-5 test or 20-yard shuttle test, is a popular performance test used in field sports. It requires athletes to accelerate 5 yards, change direction, accelerate 10 yards, change direction again and accelerate 5 yards to the finish line.
Despite its name, the test is a measure of change of direction speed in a linear plane rather than a measure of agility. The reason for this is that movements performed during the test are pre-planned and the athlete isn’t required to respond to a stimulus.
Note: The difference between agility and change of direction
- Agility – “a rapid whole-body movement with change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus.”
- Change of direction – “a rapid whole-body movement with a pre-planned change of velocity or direction.”
An athlete’s ability to change direction is important as most field sports require this rapid change of direction and short-distance sprints. The athlete that can change direction the fastest is likely to provide their team with a physical and tactical advantage over their opponent.
Procedure for the Pro Agility Test
To perform the Pro agility test, you will need:
- 20m x 20m testing area
- Stopwatch or timing gates
- Six cones
- Measuring tape
- Recording sheet
- Test administrator
Set up for the Pro Agility test:
- Place 3 channels of timing gates or cones (indicated by orange circles in figure 1) 5 yards apart in a straight line.
- The athlete will stand on the start line in a three-point stance (feet shoulder width apart with one hand in contact with the ground – if the athlete is going left first, then they must have their left hand in contact with the ground and vice versa).
- The test administrator will stand in line with the start/finish line and will count “three, two, one, go.” On “go,” the administrator will press start on the stopwatch, and the athlete must accelerate 5 yards to the first line, change direction and accelerate 10 yards to the opposite line, change direction again and accelerate 5 yards to the finish line. Note that the athlete’s lead hand and foot must make contact with each line when changing direction.
- Once the athlete accelerates through the finish line, the administrator will press stop on the stopwatch.
- The athlete will complete the test three times in each direction and may have a short rest in between each test. The best time of the three tests in each direction should be recorded to the nearest 0.01 seconds.
Creating valid and reliable data
To maximise the reliability and validity the test, there are several factors we must consider:
Normative data for the Pro Agility Test
Now that we have the athletes Pro Agility test time, we can compare their score to average times. In the table below, we have average times to complete the Pro Agility test for athletes competing in various sports and at various levels.
We can monitor an athlete’s ability to change direction over time by asking the athlete to perform the test again at a later date and comparing the data with the athletes’ previous time. Following training or an intervention, we would expect the athlete’s time to decrease, which would indicate their ability to change direction has improved.
How to improve your pro agility time
Athletes can improve their pro agility time by improving their ability to change direction faster. The deterministic model of agility performance indicates that an athlete’s change of direction speed, is influenced by:
By improving the factors in the model, an athlete should be able to change direction faster. We’ll delve into how to improve change of direction in more detail in another article later on, so keep a lookout!
Alternatives to the Pro Agility Test
There are several other tests that can be used to measure change of direction, these include the T-test, 505 test and the Illinois agility test. When deciding which test you should conduct, it’s important to note that each test measures a different type of change-of-direction ability and is underpinned by slightly different physical requirements (see the table below). Consider which of these physical requirements are important within your sport, and this will help to determine which test or tests is most appropriate for your athletes and sport.
The Pro Agility Test is a popular test used to measure change of direction in field sports. It requires athletes to accelerate 5 yards, change direction, accelerate 10 yards, change direction again and accelerate 5 yards to the finish line.
Athletes’ results can be compared to normative values and their ability to change direction can be improved by focusing on their technique, straight sprinting speed and leg muscle qualities.
- Sheppard & and Young (2006) – Agility literature review: Classifications, training and testing.
- Haff & Triplett (2015) – Essentials of strength training and conditioning 4th edition.
- Young & Farrow (2006) – A review of agility: practical applications for strength and conditioning.
- Nimphius et al (2017) – Change of direction and agility tests: challenging our current measures of performance
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
Shaw, W (2021). The pro agility (5-10-5 test). Available from: https://sportscienceinsider.com/the-pro-agility-5-10-5-test/ [Accessed dd/mm/yyyy].
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Will is a sport scientist and golf professional who specialises in motor control and motor learning. Will lecturers part-time in motor control and biomechanics, runs Golf Insider UK and consults elite athletes who are interested in optimising their training and performance.