U16s have their SPARQ measured

West Ham United U16s have been put through a series of physical tests at Chadwell Heath.

The Academy schoolboys were the latest age-group to undergo the SPARQ tests - a standardised set of five components which will allow the Club's coaching staff to measure each player's individual development.

The results of the five exercises - a 20-metre dash, kneeling power ball toss, agility shuttle, a Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test (beep test) and a vertical jump - can be compared against other players from both within the Acdemy and other Barclays Premier League clubs.

Academy sports scientist Josh Ewens (pictured) explained the value of SPARQ testing.

"The Premier League ask all the clubs in Categories 1 to 4 to do their SPARQ testing twice a year," he said. "They are a battery of tests which you do and then they feed back the data and averages for each age-group, so you can see where you are as a Club.

"It involves a 20-metre dash, an agility test on the left and right side, a jump test to look at peak power, the ball toss and the Yo-Yo intermittent test, so all of those things combine to give us a good idea about a player's top speed, how good they are at changing direction at speed and their endurance capacity."

The U16s were just the latest age-group to take part in the SPARQ tests, with every year-group from U9s up to U18s taking part in some or all of the components.


The U16s undergo their SPARQ testing at Chadwell Heath

"We actually do a few of the tests with the Under-9s - not the Yo-Yo - to give us an idea of where they are maturation-wise. Their size has a big impact on the scores that they get. We do the tests right up to Under-21 level."

The Academy will receive data from the Premier League covering all the clubs involved in the SPARQ scheme, allowing Ewens and his colleagues to compare and contrast West Ham's results with the average.

"We don't get specific numbers from individual clubs, but we do get the national averages from different age-groups and different Academy categories, so we'll get the Category 1 average and Category 2 average and so on.

"Alongside that, we'll get national records, which are always quite interesting to compare your own results against."

So, just how beneficial are the results of SPARQ tests when it comes to identifying a schoolboy footballer's chances of developing into a future professional?


"The U18s and U21s wear GPS monitors in every training session and every game, so that will tell us everything we need to know about them from a physical point of view," explained Ewens.

"With the younger players, from U15s and downwards, it gives us something to go off in terms of where they are on a broad level physically and how they have improved across the season.

"The tests are not particularly specific to football, so the results have to be taken with a pinch of salt in that regard, but they do give us an idea about where they are."