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Passing a conditioning test should be easy for an NFL athlete, right?
Tell that to the players bent over with their hands on their knees, sucking wind with the little rubber pellets sticking to their body – a clear sign that they collapsed to the turf after finishing.
The Ravens’ baseline test is no joke. I know from experience.
After top draft pick and rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw failed his first crack at it, I decided to see how hard this thing really is for myself.
“Yes I missed 1st walk through because of condition test but went back and passed it the same day to make it to the 1st practice Yesterday!!!” Upshaw tweeted.
I am barely fast enough to be an NFL offensive or defensive lineman.
All players who did not attend at least 90 percent of the team’s full offseason program (strength and conditioning, Organized Team Activities and minicamp) have to take the test.
Mink Passes The Test
The players have to sprint a total of 900 yards – nine football fields. It’s broken into six chunks.
One heat is a player starting at the goal line, sprinting to the 25-yard line and back three times. That’s 150 yards. Then they get a rest before darting out again. Six times.
If you fail to make your time in any of the six legs, you flunk the whole test.
It’s really a safety precaution as much, or perhaps more, than a way to see if players have been staying in shape.
If a player can get through it, the brutal pivoting of the hips, the stopping and going, then they have demonstrated they are fit enough to take on the rigors of an NFL practice (something I will never try).
For me, I just had to beat 35 seconds per heat with a 70-second rest in between. That’s the bar for the heavyweights, of which I am not but only have a chance of matching. Middleweight and lightweight players have to finish each leg faster and have less rest time.
To give you some perspective, I’m 28 years old, 5-foot-11, 172 pounds, grew up playing sports and still play them recreationally and am generally regarded as quick (despite what you see on the video).
I didn’t do any specific training for this. I did mix up my diet a little bit on the morning of the run, however. Instead of the usual Cheerios with blueberries I went for a mini Belgian waffle and sausage.
Now to my times for each of the six legs:
1) 27.6 seconds
2) 29.0 seconds
3) 30.9 seconds
4) 32.4 seconds
5) 33.4 seconds
6) 34.1 seconds
So what did I learn, other than the fact that I’m out of shape?
It gives me a newfound respect for the kind of athletes these players are.
For example, consider 36-year-old, 310-pound center Matt Birk. Or 349-pound nose tackle Terrence Cody. Or 32-year-old, 6-foot-8, 360-pound tackle Bryant McKinnie.
When a player flunks a test, they can’t practice until they pass it. The mere fact that a lot of these guys could pass this test at their size is pretty darn impressive to me.
I know it’s not easy for them. In fact, I know they don’t look forward to lining up on that goal line.
“It’s tiring,” outside linebacker Paul Kruger said with a laugh. “You just have to wrap your mind around it. It’s something nobody likes to do, but it’s a good indicator of how good of shape you’re in.”
Thus, it’s a real good feeling when you finish with a stamp of approval … at least 30 minutes later after recovering.
“Beat the conditioning test with time to spare,” tweeted rookie lineman Kelechi Osemele on Monday evening. “Tha gluteus on fire right now #PAUSE #RavenNation ..proud of myself lol.”
“Passed the conditioning test!” rookie running back Bernard Peirce excitedly tweeted.