Cooper test

The Cooper test is named after its inventor Kenneth H. Cooper (3) – see references below.

The test consists of a maximal run for a duration of 12 minutes and the distance covered during that timeframe is the final measurement. A 400-meter track should be used whilst testing and therefore (many) players (an entire team) can participate at the same time.

Setup, orgnization, equipment and data collection

Basically, all players will line up besides each other at the start line on a 400-meter track and start running after a signal as many laps as possible for a duration of 12 minutes.
The only equipment required is a stop-watch (and possibly a whistle to signal start and end of 12 minutes). After the start of the test, coaches need to count the lap for each player. In order to get the final distance covered for each player, the coach will indicate (with the whistle) the end of the test (and therefore the 12 minutes), players should stop immediately and remain at their space on the track until the coaches can round up/down the players position to the closest 10 meter mark. The final score for each player will consist of the number of laps added to the meters (of the incomplete lap), that the players covered during the last lap of the test.


Cooper Test
Cooper Test

VO2max calculation

A regression analysis was then used to correlate the distance covered and a true VO2max test on a treadmill (1). The correlation was very high (0.897) showing that the maximal oxygen consumption in the treadmill test explained ~90% of the performance in the track test (and therefore the distance covered).  
To estimate the maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max in ml/kg/min) of individual players, the total distance covered (in meters) need to be subtracted by 505 and furthermore divided by 45.


Cooper VO2max estimation formula
Cooper VO2max estimation formula

The Cooper test in football

The Cooper test was used in football players (2, 4-6) and recorded values were between 2430 – 3476 (2, 5, 6) meters. Furthermore, players in different field positions showed to obtain different Cooper test scores (5). Values were 3.06 (± 0.13), 2.83 (± 0.01), 3.14 (± 0.06), 2.64 (± 0.05) km for attackers, midfielders, backs, and goalkeepers respectively.


Food for thoughts

The most obvious critique on the Cooper test is regarding its continuous nature, as football is intermittent with various running speeds involved (1).




1. Bradley, P.S., Mohr, M., Bendiksen, M., Randers, M.B., Flindt, M., Barnes,

C., Hood, P., Gomez, A., Andersen, J.L., Di Mascio, M., Bangsbo, J., and Krustrup, P. Sub-maximal and maximal Yo-Yo intermittent endurance test level 2: heart rate response, reproducibility and application to elite soccer. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 111: 969-978, 2011.

2. Chin, M.K., Lo, Y.S., Li, C.T., and So, C.H. Physiological profiles of Hong

Kong elite soccer players. Br. J. Sports. Med. 26: 262-266, 1992.

3. Cooper, K.H. Means of assessing maximal oxygen uptake. The Journal of

the American Medical Association 203: 135-138, 1968.

4. Kirkendall, D.T., Leonard, K., and Garrett, W.E.J. On the relationship of

fitness to running volume and intensity in female soccer players. Presented at 5th World Congress on Sports Science and Football, Portugal, 2003.

5. Raven, P.B., Gettman, L.R., Pollock, M.L., and Cooper, K.H. A physiological

evaluation of professional soccer players. Br. J. Sports. Med. 10: 209-216, 1976.

6. Williams, C., Reid, R.M., and Coutts, R. Observations on the aerobic power

of University rugby players and professional soccer players. Br. J. Sports. Med. 7: 390-391, 1973.

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