Validity and reliability of speed tests used in soccer: A systematic review

PLoS One. 2019 Aug 14;14(8):e0220982. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220982. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Speed is an important prerequisite in soccer. Therefore, a large number of tests have been developed aiming to investigate several speed skills relevant to soccer. This systematic review aimed to examine the validity and reliability of speed tests used in adult soccer players.

Methods: A systematic search was performed according to the PRISMA guidelines. Studies were included if they investigated speed tests in adult soccer players and reported validity (construct and criterion) or reliability (intraday and interday) data. The tests were categorized into linear-sprint, repeated-sprint, change-of-direction sprint, agility, and tests incorporating combinations of these skills.

Results: In total, 90 studies covering 167 tests were included. Linear-sprint (n = 67) and change-of-direction sprint (n = 60) were studied most often, followed by combinations of the aforementioned (n = 21) and repeated-sprint tests (n = 15). Agility tests were examined fewest (n = 4). Mainly based on construct validity studies, acceptable validity was reported for the majority of the tests in all categories, except for agility tests, where no validity study was identified. Regarding intraday and interday reliability, ICCs>0.75 and CVs<3.0% were evident for most of the tests in all categories. These results applied for total and average times. In contrast, measures representing fatigue such as percent decrement scores indicated inconsistent validity findings. Regarding reliability, ICCs were 0.11-0.49 and CVs were 16.8-51.0%.

Conclusion: Except for agility tests, several tests for all categories with acceptable levels of validity and high levels of reliability for adult soccer players are available. Caution should be given when interpreting fatigue measures, e.g., percent decrement scores. Given the lack of accepted gold-standard tests for each category, researchers and practitioners may base their test selection on the broad database provided in this systematic review. Future research should pay attention to the criterion validity examining the relationship between test results and match parameters as well as to the development and evaluation of soccer-specific agility tests.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Running / physiology*
  • Soccer / physiology*

Grants and funding

We acknowledge support by the KIT-Publication Fund of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.