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Fitness & Health

10th Jun 2020

What’s the Bronco test and why it may come up in conversation this week

Alan Loughnane

bronco test

Sportspeople, prepare for some burning lungs.

Ireland is currently in Phase Two of easing Covid-19 restrictions which means that groups of up to 15 people, including trainers and coaches, may return to non-contact outdoor training activity.

Matches are forbidden at the moment but under the current guidelines, competitions for sports teams can resume on 20 July with limited spectators and where social distancing can take place.

Around the country, buoyed by the prospect of a return of sporting events, teams are mobilising to consider their next moves.

Training in smaller groups is on the table and, providing there are no setbacks, there’s a reasonably short runway to the start of competitions. Far shorter than most teams would be accustomed to.

One thing that every player knows they’ll face when they return is fitness work, fitness work and perhaps if there’s a little time left over after that… more fitness work.

Teams have to get ready for the what will be a truncated season. In many cases, fitness plans were distributed to players at the beginning of lockdown to try and help players maintain a base level of fitness.

Whether these were followed depends on the motivation of individuals but it’s profoundly obvious that there’s some who won’t have followed these plans rigidly or, indeed, even acknowledged their existence.

“It’s very hard for a car to go from second gear to fifth gear, there needs to be a bit of work done there in third or fourth to get people there safely,” Arsenal’s S&C coach Barry Solan told the GAA Hour this week.

“So a bit of a high speed running and sprinting should be planned in a common sense approach…”

But to get an idea of what the coaches are working with, some kind of fitness test may be done to evaluate players, and a lot of teams are turning to the Bronco test for this job.

I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of fitness assessments, I’m just going to explain what exactly the Bronco test is.

So what is the Bronco test?

Popular in a variety of team sports including soccer, rugby, hockey and GAA, the Bronco test is used as a measurement of aerobic endurance.

It involves running to-and-from a start line to 20, 40 and 60 metre marks, five times without a break, with a total distance covered of 1200 metres.

It usually takes between four and six minutes to complete, with anything under five minutes considered to be a very good score.

The test is particularly popular in rugby circles but is a favourite of many GAA teams in recent years.

Speaking to SportsJOE last year, Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong provided a frank assessment of it.

“That’s pretty miserable, to be honest with you.”

If you’re looking for a general idea of what to expect, you can see The Blues in New Zealand completing it in the second half of the video below.

Beauden Barrett set a new club record in the test with a time of 4.12.

Clip via The Blues

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