Needs Analysis in Sports Performance

Before developing an effective conditioning programme for an athlete, a trainer must analyse the needs of the individual in terms of both their unique performance characteristics and the general demands of the sport. A deeper understanding of the physiological basis of sports performance will lead to improved performance through increased physical capacity, reduced fatigue and a decrease in the likelihood of injury and illness.

This page is intended as a resource for students and practitioners and contains resources that will help develop tests and monitoring programmes for coaches and physiologists in a range of sports.

According to Baechle & Earle (2008), the following considerations should be made:

Evaluation of the sport

This can be broken down to forms of movement, physiological and injury analysis

Assessment of the athlete

Initial consultation with the athlete can determine training status. This will help the trainer by highlighting their experience of exercises, their knowledge and training background.

Physical testing and evaluation, should cover a number of components of fitness and be relevant to the needs of the sport. Whilst it is relatively easy to identify a number of assessments of performance, care should be taken that the tests chosen will be valid for the sport in question.

See also Movement Screening - another page on this website

Key Reading on Needs Analysis

Plisk, S.S. (2016) Effective Needs Analysis and functional training principles In Jeffreys, I and Moody,J. Strength and Conditioning for Sports Performance. London: Routledge

Useful Textbooks

The following two textbooks contain a number of chapters on specific sports along with signposts to research on needs analysis, fitness test batteries and exercise programming guidance for each sport. 

Laursen, P. and Bucheit, M. (2018) Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [Human Kinetics website]

Tanner, R., & Gore, C. (2012). Physiological tests for elite athletes (2nd ed.).. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics. 

Turner, A. (2018). Routledge Handbook of Strength and Conditioning: Sport-specific Programming for High Performance. Routledge. [googlebooks]

Further Reading on Needs Analysis

Ruddock, A. D., Boyd, C., Winter, E. M., & Ranchordas, M. (2019). Considerations for the scientific support process and applications to case studies. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 14(1), 134-138. 

Image from: Ruddock et al (2019). Considerations for the scientific support process and applications to case studies. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 14(1), 134-138.

Further Reading

General Sports Fitness Testing and Assessment

Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd Ed.) National Strength and Conditioning Association. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. [google books]

Brown, E.L., Ferrigno, V.A. and Santana, J.C. (Eds) (2000) Training for speed, agility and quickness. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Bourdon, P. C., Cardinale, M., Murray, A., Gastin, P., Kellmann, M., Varley, M. C., ... & Cable, N. T. (2017). Monitoring athlete training loads: consensus statement. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 12(s2), S2-161. 

Cardinale,M., Newton,R., Nosaka,K. (2011) Strength and Conditioning: Biological Principles and Practical Applications. Oxford; Wiley-Blackwell. (Section 3; Monitoring S&C progress)

Cook, G., Burton, L., Kiesel, K. (2010) Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, and Corrective Strategies. Chichester, Lotus Publishing

Comfort, P., Jones, P. A., & McMahon, J. J. (Eds.). (2018). Performance Assessment in Strength and Conditioning. London, UK: Routledge. [googlebooks]

Eston, R. & Reilly, T. (Ed.) (2009). Kinanthropometry and exercise physiology laboratory manual. Vol. 2: Physiology. (3rd Ed). London, Routledge

Fleck, S.J. and Kraemer, W.J. (2004) Designing Resistance Training Programs (3rd Ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Gamble, P. (2009) Strength and Conditioning for Team Sports: Sport-Specific Physical Preparation for High Performance, Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. (Ch 2 Physiological and performance testing)

Gore, C.J. (Ed.)(2000) Physiological Tests for Elite Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.[google books]

Howe, L. and Waldron, M. (2019) Measuring range of motion: an S&C coach’s guide to assessing mobility. Professional Strength & Conditioning, 55 [researchgate]

Keogh, J. W., & Winwood, P. W. (2017). The epidemiology of injuries across the weight-training sports. Sports medicine, 47(3), 479-501. 

Kraemer, W. J., and Ratamess. N. A. (2004) Fundamentals of Resistance Training: Progression and Exercise Prescription. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 36(4), 674–688, [full text]

McGuigan, M. R., Cormack, S. J., & Gill, N. D. (2013). Strength and power profiling of athletes: Selecting tests and how to use the information for program design. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 35(6), 7-14.[full text]

Maud, P.J. & Foster C. (Eds)(2006) Physiological Assessment of Human Fitness (2nd Ed.). Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics [google books]

Maughan, R. J., & Gleeson, M. (2010). The biochemical basis of sports performance. Oxford University Press.

Minick, K.I., Kiesel, K.B., Burton, L., Taylor, A., Plisky, P., and Butler, R.J. (2010) Interrater reliability of the Functional Movement Screen. J Strength Cond Res 24(2): 479–486 [full text]

Miller, T. (Ed.)(2012) NSCA's Guide to Tests and Assessments. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics

National Academy of Sports Medicine (2010) NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.[google books]

Okada, T., Huxel, K.C., and Nesser, T.W. (2011) Relationship between core stability, functional movement, and performance. J Strength Cond Res 25(1): 252–261 [full text]

Patel, K. (2005) Corrective Exercise: A Practical Approach. Bristol: Hodder Education [amazon]

Polglaze, T., Hogan, C., Dawson, B., Buttfield, A., Osgnach, C., Lester, L., & Peeling, P.(2018). Classification of Intensity in Team Sport Activity. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 50(7), 1487-1494. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001575  

Reiman, M.P. & Manske, R.C. (2009) Functional Testing in Human Performance. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics [google books]

Patel, K. (2005) Corrective Exercise: A Practical Approach. Bristol: Hodder Education [amazon]

Reiman, M.P. & Manske, R.C. (2009) Functional Testing in Human Performance. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics [google books]

Sands, W., Cardinale, M., McNeal, J., Murray, S., Sole, C., Reed, J., ... & Stone, M. (2019). Recommendations for measurement and management of an elite athlete. Sports, 7(5), 105. 

Schneiders, A.G., Davidsson, A., Hörman, E., Sullivan, S.J. (2011) Functional Movement Screen Normative Values In A Young, Active Population The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy Vol. 6, No.2, 75-82 [full text]

Tanner, R., & Gore, C. (2012). Physiological tests for elite athletes (2nd ed.).. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics. 

Wilk, K. E., Arrigo, C., Andrews, J. R., & Clancy, W. G. (1999). Rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in the female athlete. Journal of Athletic Training, 34(2), 177–193. [full text]

Winter, E., Jones, A.M., Davison, R.C.R., Bromley, P.D., Mercer, T.H. (Eds.) (2007). Sport and exercise physiology testing guidelines. Vol 1: Sport Testing. London, Routledge.[google books]

Sample Injury Reading

Ellenbecker, T. S., & Aoki, R. (2020). Step by Step Guide to Understanding the Kinetic Chain Concept in the Overhead Athlete. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine, 13(2), 155-163. 

Sport Specific Reading

Rugby (Union and League)

Deutsch, M.U., Kearney, G. A. & Rehrer, N. J. (2006) Time – motion analysis of professional rugby union players during match-play Journal of Sports Sciences 1 – 12 [full text]

Duthie, G., Pyne, D., & Hooper, S. (2003). Applied physiology and game analysis of rugby union. Sports Medicine, 33, 973-991. [abstract]

Gabbett, T., King, T., Jenkins, D. (2008) Applied Physiology of Rugby League Sports Medicine, Vol.38, No.2, 119-138 [abstract]

McMahon, J. J., Lake, J. P., Dos' Santos, T., Jones, P. A., Thomasson, M. L., & Comfort, P. (2022). Countermovement jump standards in rugby league: what is a “good” performance?. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 36(6), 1691-1698. 

McMahon, J. J., Ripley, N. J., & Comfort, P. (2022). Force plate-derived countermovement jump normative data and benchmarks for professional Rugby League players. Sensors, 22(22), 8669. 

Racket Sports

Cabello Manrique,D. and González-Badillo,J.J. (2003) Analysis of the characteristics of competitive badminton Br J Sports Med 37:62-66 [full text]

Chin M-K, Wong A.S., So R.C.H., et al. (1995) Sport specific fitness testing of elite badminton players. Br J Sports Med Vol. 29, No. 3, 153-157[full text]

Fernandez-Fernandez, J., Ulbricht, A., & Ferrauti, A. (2014). Fitness testing of tennis players: How valuable is it?. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(Suppl 1), i22-i31.

Kovacs, M. M. S. (2007). Tennis physiology. Sports Medicine, 37(3), 189-198 [full text]

Lees,A., Caballo,D. and Torres,G.(2009) Science and Racket Sports IV. Oxon: Routledge [google books]


Narazaki, K., Berg, K., Stergiou, N. and Chen,B.(2009) Physiological demands of competitive basketball Scand J Med Sci Sports 19: 425–432 

Ostojic, S.M., Mazic, S. and Dikic. N. (2006) Profiling in basketball: Physical and physiological characteristics of elite players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 20(4).740-744. DOI: 10.1519/R-15944.1

Read, P. J., Hughes, J., Stewart, P., Chavda, S., Bishop, C., Edwards, M., & Turner, A. N. (2014). A needs analysis and field-based testing battery for basketball. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 36(3), 13-20. [www] 


Bangsbo, J., Iaia, F. M., & Krustrup, P. (2007). Metabolic response and fatigue in soccer. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2(2), 111.

Bloomfield, J., Polman, R. and O'Donoghue, P. (2007) Physical demands of different positions in FA Premier League soccer Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 6, 63-70 [full text]

Bradley, P. S., Sheldon, W., Wooster, B., Olsen, P., Boanas, P., & Krustrup, P. (2009). High-intensity running in English FA Premier League soccer matches. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27(2), 159-168.

Datson, N., Hulton, A., Andersson, H., Lewis, T., Weston, M., Drust, B., & Gregson, W. (2014). Applied physiology of female soccer: an update. Sports Medicine, 44(9), 1225-1240. [full text]

Deprez, D., Fransen, J., Boone, J., Lenoir, M., Philippaerts, R., & Vaeyens, R. (2015). Characteristics of high-level youth soccer players: variation by playing position. Journal of Sports Sciences, 33(3), 243-254.

McCall, A., Carling, C., Nedelec, M., Davison, M., Le Gall, F., Berthoin, S., & Dupont, G. (2014). Risk factors, testing and preventative strategies for non-contact injuries in professional football: current perceptions and practices of 44 teams from various premier leagues. British journal of sports medicine, 48(18), 1352-1357. 

Mirkov, D.M., Nedeljkovic, A., Kukolj, M., Ugarkovic, D., and Jaric, S. (2008) Evaluation of reliability of soccer-specific field tests. J Strength Cond Res 22: 1046-1050 [abstract]

Mohr, M., Krustrup, P., & Bangsbo, J. (2005). Fatigue in soccer: a brief review. Journal of sports sciences, 23(6), 593-599.

Reilly, T. (2007). The science of training–soccer. Oxon: Routledge [full text]

Klein, C., Luig, P., Henke, T., Bloch, H., & Platen, P. (2020). Nine typical injury patterns in German professional male football (soccer): a systematic visual video analysis of 345 match injuries. British journal of sports medicine  [plus a short version ]

Distance Running

Casado, A., Foster, C., Bakken, M., & Tjelta, L. I. (2023). Does Lactate-Guided Threshold Interval Training within a High-Volume Low-Intensity Approach Represent the “Next Step” in the Evolution of Distance Running Training?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(5), 3782. 

Foster, C., Hanley, B., Barroso, R., Boullosa, D., Casado, A., Haugen, T., ... & de Koning, J. J. (2023). Evolution of 1500-m Olympic Running Performance. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 1(aop), 1-9. 

Road Cycling

Figure from Bell et al. (2017) DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001068

Bell, P. G., Furber, M. J., Van Someren, K. A., Anton-Solanas, A., & Swart, J. (2017). The physiological profile of a multiple Tour de France winning cyclist. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc, 49, 115-123. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001068

Ebert, T. R., Martin, D. T., Stephens, B., & Withers, R. T. (2006). Power output during a professional men’s road-cycling tour. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 1(4), 324-335.   [www]

Hawley, J. A., & Stepto, N. K. (2001). Adaptations to training in endurance cyclists: Implications for performance . Sports Medicine, 31(7), 511-520. 

Leo, P., Spragg, J., Mujika, I., Giorgi, A., Lorang, D., Simon, D., & Lawley, J. S. (2021). Power Profiling, Workload Characteristics, and Race Performance of U23 and Professional Cyclists During the Multistage Race Tour of the Alps, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 16(8), 1089-1095. 

Lucia, A., Hoyos, J., Perez, M., Santalla, A., & Chicharro, J. L. (2002). Inverse relationship between VO2max and economy/efficiency in world-class cyclists. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 34(12), 2079-2084. DOI: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000039306.92778.DF  [www]

Menaspà, P., Quod, M., Martin, D. T., Peiffer, J. J., & Abbiss, C. R. (2015). Physical demands of sprinting in professional road cycling. International journal of sports medicine, 36(13), 1058-1062. DOI: 10.1055/s-0035-1554697 

Menaspà, P., Sias, M., Bates, G., & La Torre, A. (2017). Demands of world cup competitions in elite women’s road cycling. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 12(10), 1293-1296. 

Padilla, S., Mujika, I., Orbananos, J., Santisteban, J., Angulo, F., & Goiriena, J. J. (2001). Exercise intensity and load during mass-start stage races in professional road cycling. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33(5), 796-802. [www]

Passfield, L., Hopker, J. G., Jobson, S., Friel, D., & Zabala, M. (2017). Knowledge is power: issues of measuring training and performance in cycling. Journal of sports sciences, 35(14), 1426-1434.   [www]

Quod, M. J., Martin, D. T., Martin, J. C., & Laursen, P. B. (2010). The power profile predicts road cycling MMP. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 31(06), 397-401. DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1247528 


Backe, S., Ericson, L., Janson, S., & Timpka, T. (2009). Rock climbing injury rates and associated risk factors in a general climbing population. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 19(6), 850-856.

Brent, S., Draper, N., Hodgson, C., & Blackwell, G. (2009). Development of a performance assessment tool for rock climbers. European Journal of Sport Science, 9(3), 159-167.

de Moraes Bertuzzi, R. C., Franchini, E., Kokubun, E., & Kiss, M. A. P. D. M. (2007). Energy system contributions in indoor rock climbing. European journal of applied physiology, 101(3), 293-300.

España-Romero, V., Porcel, F. B. O., Artero, E. G., Jiménez-Pavón, D., Sainz, A. G., Garzón, M. J. C., & Ruiz, J. R. (2009). Climbing time to exhaustion is a determinant of climbing performance in high-level sport climbers. European journal of applied physiology, 107(5), 517-525.

Giles, L. V., Rhodes, E. C., & Taunton, J. E. (2006). The physiology of rock climbing. Sports Medicine, 36, 529-545.

La Torre, A., Crespi, D., Serpiello, F. R., & Merati, G. (2009). Heart rate and blood lactate evaluation in bouldering elite athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 49(1), 19.

Magiera, A., Roczniok, R., Maszczyk, A., Czuba, M., Kantyka, J., & Kurek, P. (2013). The structure of performance of a sport rock climber. Journal of human kinetics, 36(1), 107-117.

Schweizer, A., & Furrer, M. (2007). Correlation of forearm strength and sport climbing performance. Isokinetics and Exercise Science, 15(3), 211.

Sheel, A. W. (2004). Physiology of sport rock climbing. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(3), 355-359.


Barlow, M., Rowe, J., Ruffle, O., Davidson, M.,  & O’hara, J. (2016). Anthropometric and performance perspectives of female competitive surfing. Human Movement, 17(3), 154-161. 


Sandbakk, Ø., Holmberg, H. C., Leirdal, S., & Ettema, G. (2011). The physiology of world‐class sprint skiers. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 21(6), e9-e16.


Marques, M. C., Van den Tillaar, R., Gabbett, T. J., Reis, V. M., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2009). Physical fitness qualities of professional volleyball players: determination of positional differences. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(4), 1106-1111. 

Related Pages on this website

Assessments of Aerobic and anaerobic fitness

Other Related Pages

Needs Analysis by Science for Sport

Functional Movement Screening - Functional Movement Systems and a page of research articles

Chan,D. (1999) Fitness Testing Assignment: Basketball. Click here for a review article

RFU & Lahart,I.(2007) A fitness assessment protocol for Rugby Union. [full text]