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Physical Fitness Characteristics of High vs. Low Performers on an Occupationally Specific Physical Agility Test for Patrol Officers

Dawes, J. Jay1; Lindsay, Keston1; Bero, Jennifer1; Elder, Craig1; Kornhauser, Charlie2; Holmes, Ryan2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: October 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 10 - p 2808–2815
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002082
Original Research

Dawes, JJ, Lindsay, K, Bero J, Elder C, Kornhauser C, and Holmes, R. Physical fitness characteristics of high vs. low performers on an occupationally specific physical agility test for patrol officers. J Strength Cond Res 31(10): 2808–2815, 2017—Law enforcement agencies frequently use physical ability tests (PATs) as a method of evaluating occupational performance. These tests are designed to replicate essential occupational tasks frequently performed by officers in the field. The purpose of this study was to determine whether significant relationships exist between the selected physical fitness tests and PAT performance and to determine which of these tests best differentiates between high and low PAT performers. Full-time highway patrol officers (n = 495) submitted self-reported anthropometric data (mean age = 39.6 + 7.7 years) along with fitness assessments taken from their organization's yearly fitness tests. All subjects completed a series of field-based fitness tests, as well as an occupationally specific PAT. Results of the study indicated that the selected tests accounted for almost 69% of the total variance on PAT performance. Overall, the 20-m meter multistage fitness test, 1-minute sit-up performance, and vertical jump height best predicted PAT performance. Furthermore, it was revealed that high performers were significantly more fit in all measures of dynamic fitness when compared with lower performers. No significant differences were discovered in static strength between groups. Strength and conditioning specialists should focus on developing aerobic capacity, trunk muscular endurance, and whole-body anaerobic power to improve PAT and occupational performance.

1Department of Health Sciences, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado; and

2Colorado State Highway Patrol, Training Academy, Lakewood, Colorado

Address correspondence to J. Jay Dawes,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.