7 Simple Ways to Measure Athletic Preparedness: DIY Methods for Coaches

 In the competitive world of athletics, ensuring your athletes are physically prepared for training is crucial. But how can you effectively gauge their readiness without expensive equipment or complex protocols? Fortunately, there are simple, DIY methods to assess physical preparedness. These methods provide valuable insights into an athlete's recovery, strength, and overall fitness levels, helping you tailor training programs for optimal performance.

1. Grip Strength

Why Measure Grip Strength?

Grip strength is a reliable indicator of overall muscle strength and endurance. It reflects upper body power and can reveal fatigue or overtraining.

How to Measure Grip Strength

  • Equipment: Hand dynamometer
  • Procedure:
    1. Have the athlete hold the dynamometer in one hand.
    2. Instruct them to squeeze as hard as possible for a few seconds.
    3. Record the reading and repeat on the other hand.
    4. Compare results with previous tests to monitor changes.


Consistently lower grip strength readings can indicate fatigue, insufficient recovery, or overtraining. This test is quick, easy, and provides immediate feedback.

2. Resting Heart Rate (RHR)

Why Measure Resting Heart Rate?

RHR is a key indicator of cardiovascular fitness and overall health. Variations in RHR can signal changes in an athlete's fitness level or recovery status.

How to Measure Resting Heart Rate

  • Equipment: Stopwatch or heart rate monitor
  • Procedure:
    1. Measure heart rate first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.
    2. Use a stopwatch to count beats for 60 seconds, or use a heart rate monitor for more accuracy.
    3. Record the value daily.


An elevated RHR compared to the athlete's baseline may suggest overtraining, stress, or illness. Monitoring RHR helps in adjusting training intensity to prevent burnout.

3. Vertical Jump

Why Measure Vertical Jump?

Vertical jump height is a powerful indicator of lower body strength, power, and explosiveness. It's a simple yet effective way to assess an athlete's readiness and progress.

How to Measure Vertical Jump

  • Equipment: Measuring tape, wall, or Vertec device
  • Procedure:
    1. Athlete stands side-on to a wall, reaches up, and marks the highest point reached (standing reach).
    2. From a standing position, the athlete jumps as high as possible and marks the highest point reached.
    3. Measure the difference between the standing reach and the jump height.


A decrease in vertical jump height can indicate muscle fatigue or insufficient recovery. Regular testing can help track improvements in power and identify when an athlete needs more rest.

4. Sleep Quality and Quantity

Why Monitor Sleep?

Sleep is essential for recovery and overall health. Poor sleep can negatively affect performance, mood, and cognitive function.

How to Monitor Sleep

  • Equipment: Sleep tracker or journal
  • Procedure:
    1. Use a sleep tracker to monitor sleep duration and quality.
    2. Alternatively, keep a sleep journal to record hours slept and subjective sleep quality.
    3. Analyze patterns over time.


Inconsistent or poor sleep patterns can signal that an athlete is not recovering adequately. Encourage good sleep hygiene practices and adjust training loads as necessary.

5. Subjective Wellness Questionnaires

Why Use Wellness Questionnaires?

These questionnaires provide insights into an athlete's perceived fatigue, muscle soreness, stress levels, and overall mood. They complement physical measurements with subjective data.

How to Use Wellness Questionnaires

  • Equipment: Pre-designed questionnaire (e.g., Recovery-Stress Questionnaire for Athletes)
  • Procedure:
    1. Distribute the questionnaire to athletes regularly (e.g., weekly or after intense training sessions).
    2. Collect and analyze responses to identify trends or concerns.


High scores in fatigue or stress categories can indicate the need for recovery days or lighter training. Regular use of these questionnaires helps in understanding the holistic well-being of athletes.

6. Body Weight and Hydration Status

Why Monitor Body Weight and Hydration?

Fluctuations in body weight and hydration can affect performance and indicate changes in muscle mass or fluid balance.

How to Monitor Body Weight and Hydration

  • Equipment: Scale, urine color chart, or hydration monitor
  • Procedure:
    1. Weigh athletes at the same time each day, ideally in the morning.
    2. Check urine color as an indicator of hydration (pale yellow is ideal).
    3. Use a hydration monitor for more precise measurements.


Significant weight changes or dark urine color can indicate dehydration or poor nutrition. Ensuring athletes maintain optimal hydration and body weight is critical for performance.

7. Flexibility and Mobility Tests

Why Assess Flexibility and Mobility?

Good flexibility and mobility are crucial for injury prevention and optimal performance. Regular testing can help identify areas that need attention.

How to Assess Flexibility and Mobility

  • Equipment: Measuring tape, goniometer, or visual assessment
  • Procedure:
    1. Perform simple tests like the sit-and-reach, shoulder mobility test, or ankle dorsiflexion test.
    2. Measure the range of motion or distance reached.
    3. Record and compare results over time.


Limited flexibility or reduced range of motion can indicate tightness or potential injury risk. Incorporate regular stretching and mobility exercises to address deficiencies.


Regularly assessing your athletes' preparedness is crucial for optimizing training programs and preventing overtraining. These simple, DIY methods—grip strength, resting heart rate, vertical jump, sleep monitoring, wellness questionnaires, body weight and hydration status, and flexibility tests—provide valuable insights into their physical and mental readiness. By incorporating these assessments into your routine, you can ensure your athletes remain at their peak performance, ready to tackle any challenge.


  1. Jeffrey, D. (2014). "Grip Strength as a Vital Sign." Journal of Clinical Medicine, 3(4), 645-655.
  2. Shigdel, R., et al. (2017). "Resting Heart Rate and Risk of Cardiovascular Events and Mortality in Current Tobacco Smokers." Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(4), e005991.
  3. Thomas, J. R., et al. (2015). "Vertical Jump and Power: Influence of Selected Anthropometric Variables." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(8), 2166-2174.
  4. Walker, M. P. (2008). "Cognitive Consequences of Sleep and Sleep Loss." Sleep Medicine, 9, S29-S34.
  5. Saw, A. E., et al. (2016). "Monitoring the Athlete Training Response: Subjective Self-Reported Measures Trump Commonly Used Objective Measures: A Systematic Review." British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(5), 281-291.
  6. Casa, D. J., et al. (2000). "Prevention of Dehydration, Heat Stroke, and Other Heat Illnesses in Athletes: Guidelines." Journal of Athletic Training, 35(2), 212-224.
  7. Smith, C. A., et al. (2014). "Flexibility and Muscular Fitness Testing in Youth: Does Current Practice Meet the Needs of Future Fitness Programs?" Pediatric Exercise Science, 26(3), 292-302.

By using these methods, you can ensure your athletes are always in top condition, ready to achieve their best performances.

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