Development of Concise Physical Performance Test Batteries in Young Athletes

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Dec;52(12):2581-2589. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002422.


Purpose: This study aimed 1) to define the principal components of physical function assessed by 10 common lower extremity physical performance tests and 2) to derive a reduced-item set of physical performance tests that efficiently and accurately measures raw performance and limb symmetry on each underlying component in pediatric and adolescent athletes.

Methods: This study included healthy, uninjured volunteers (n = 100) between the ages 6 and 18 yr (mean age = 11.7 ± 3.6 yr; 52 females). Subjects performed the stork balance, stork balance on BOSU® Balance Trainer, single leg squat (SLS), SLS on BOSU, clockwise and counterclockwise quadrant single leg hop (SLH), forward SLH, timed SLH, triple crossover SLH, and lower quarter Y-Balance Test™. Item reduction was performed using principal components analysis (PCA). We developed separate principal components analysis for average raw performance and side-to-side limb symmetry, with secondary analyses to evaluate consistency of results by age and sex.

Results: We identified two components for average raw performance (accounting for 65.2% of the variance in total test battery) with a reduced-item set composed of five tests, and four components for limb symmetry (accounting for 62.9% of the variance in total test battery) with a reduced-item set of seven tests. The most parsimonious test suitable for screening both average raw performance and limb symmetry would consist of five tests (stork balance on BOSU, SLS on BOSU, forward SLH, timed SLH, and lower quarter Y-Balance Test™). Age- and sex-specific test batteries may be warranted.

Conclusion: Comprehensive screening for lower extremity average raw performance and limb symmetry is possible with short physical performance test batteries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Athletes*
  • Child
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sample Size
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports