What is a Yo-Yo test in Cricket? (and How Can You Ace It!)

Fitness is paramount in modern-day cricket. Players are expected to be fit all the time and they get very little time to recover and get ready for the next game. They constantly juggle between international, domestic, and league commitments. It has become more than important, in recent, times to quantify fitness as well as recovery. The Yo-Yo test was introduced for exactly this purpose.

A Yo-Yo test is a multi-stage fitness test. It is done by running to and fro between the cones placed 20 meters apart. The running is matched with “Beeps” and measured in shuttles where 1 shuttle is a round-trip to the starting point. A shuttle is followed by a 10 sec recovery period. Speeds increase with every level until the player gives up.

So why do we need a Yo-Yo test in cricket? What is the significance? Does the test guarantee success? What should I do to improve my scores? Do read on to get answers to these questions and understand other details of the Yo-Yo test.

What is the Yo-Yo test in cricket?

A Yo-Yo test is a multi-stage fitness test, also known as intermittent recovery test, that has been made mandatory by various cricket boards across the world for a player to make it to the squad.

It is basically an exercise to check a player’s aerobic cardiovascular endurance in a staged manner. It is done as a part of the strength and conditioning of the modern-day players who sometimes have to play back-to-back games without much rest.

A Yo-Yo test is a modified version of the Beep Test or Lager Test where a 10 seconds break is introduced after every shuttle before a player starts to run for the next shuttle.

The break was introduced to mimic how the game of cricket is played. In cricket, players sprint between the wickets while batting, behind the ball while fielding, towards the stumps while bowling and then there is a break of a few seconds before the next event happens. This is exactly how the Yo-Yo test is done.

More on that later, but let’s first understand the concept of a shuttle Yo-Yo test.

What is a Shuttle in a Yo-Yo Test?

The distance of the cones placed in a shuttle for a Yo Yo Test (Image Credit)

A Shuttle is a basic unit in the Yo-Yo test. The test is conducted using two cones that are placed 20 meters, roughly the length of a cricket pitch, apart from each other on a flat ground.

A player begins the shuttle from Position A (as showcased in the image above) on the first beep and has to reach the cone at the Position B before the second beep. Then, the player turns around and starts running back to the cone at position A i.e. the starting point and has to reach there before the third beep.

Basically, a shuttle is when a player covers 40 meters between the two cones placed 20 meters apart, to and fro, within three beeps. As the levels increase, the time between the beeps reduce. Meaning, the individual has to run gradually faster to cover the 40-meter distance to clear the level.

The 40-meter distance of every shuttle is gradually accumulated over the different levels in the period of a complete yo-yo test.

What are the Various Levels in a Yo-Yo Test?

There are various difficulty levels in a Yo-Yo test and every level has a certain predefined number of shuttles to be completed before a player moves to the next level.

As a player moves ahead in the test, the player needs to run at faster speed in order to complete the shuttle within 3 beeps. In other words, as the level increases the time available to complete one shuttle decreases gradually.

A Yo-Yo test starts at level 5 – a level at which the shuttle is to be completed in 14.4 sec which means there will be a beep every 7.2 sec after the starting beep. The expected speed at this level is 10kmph which is very easy even for a regular person. Level 5 consists of just one shuttle.

The next level is level 9, 11, 12 and so on increasing by a single level thereafter.

The table below gives an indication on the number of repetitions of the shuttles that are included in each level.

LevelShuttle RepetitionsApprox. Speed (Kmph)Average Time/ Shuttle
(40 meters)
511014 s
911212 s
1121311.5 s
12313.510.6 s
1341410.25 s
14814.59.88 s
158159.6 s
16815.59.25 s
178169 s
18816.58.75 s
198178.5 s

The levels keep on increasing until level 23. As you can see from the above table, the average speed per level keeps on increasing as you increase the level.

The table below gives a more detailed account of how the beeps take place at each repetition.

The Table indicating the time allocated between each shuttles at various levels (Image Credit)

With the basics out of the way, let’s get to understand the procedure of a Yo-Yo test.

Step by Step Procedure for Yo-Yo Test

Players from Mumbai Indians team take the Yo Yo test (Image Credit)

It is always advisable to do some warm-up before taking up the Yo-Yo test. The test involves a lot of quick turning and twisting. It would be advisable to have your muscles warmed before the test is taken. Let’s take a look at the detailed procedure.

Step 1 – Get Ready to Run
A player stands at a cone at one end in a ready-to-run position to begin the Yo-Yo test while the coach or the person conducting the test gets the yo-yo test measuring instrument or a yo-yo test app ready to begin the test at level-5.

Step 2 – Start the Shuttle
The player starts to run immediately after hearing a beep and tries to reach the other end before the second beep with a slow speed of 10kmph.

Step 3 – Turn around after the 2nd Beep
The player starts running back to the starting point before the third beep and then rests for 10 seconds at the starting point.

Step 4 – Reach the original starting point before 3rd Beep
Before the third beep buzzes, the player needs to reach the starting point of the shuttle

Step 5 – 10 second recovery
Once the player has crossed the starting point on or before the 3rd beep, the player gets a 10 second recovery period during which he/she has to walk 5 meters towards point C (as indicated in the image above) and walk back to the original position to start the next repetition.

Step 6 – Begin the next Repetition
Once the 10 sec recovery period is complete, 1 repetition of the Yo-Yo test is considered completed.

The above steps go on with an increase in Levels and thus increase in the speed requirements to complete that level.

If the player misses the beep, he gets a warning and is generally assisted by the examiner/coach in between. However, if the player misses two beeps, then that is considered as the end of the test.

While finalizing the score, the failed shuttle is excluded and the one before the failed shuttle is considered as valid. More on this ahead.

If you are still unclear on how the Yo-Yo test works, watch it in action in the above video. You may not fully understand from the video. However, once you have seen the video, and the activities that are undertaken by the players, come back to this article and read through the above information.

Chances are you will find this highly informative!

How does the scoring work in the Yo-Yo test?

Before we understand the scoring, we should discuss various levels and the number of shuttles at each level.

As we have seen a Yo-Yo test has levels and each level has a different number of shuttles. The Yo-Yo starts at level 5 which has just one shuttle to be completed with 10 kmph (i.e. within 14.4 secs).

The next level is Level-9 which also consists of a single shuttle at the speed of 12 kmph. Then the Yo-Yo test advances to Level-11 which requires a player to complete 2 shuttles with a speed of 13 kmph. Level-12 and 13 have a higher number of shuttles at higher speeds of 13.5 kmph and 14 kmph, respectively. Level-12 has 3 shuttles whereas Level-13 has four shuttles.

Each level after Level-14 onwards consists of a total of 8 shuttles before being able to move to the next level. The final level in the Yo-Yo test is the level-23 which needs that shuttle to be completed with a speed of 19.5 kmph. That speed is on par with the elite marathoners’ speed during a marathon. No one has come close to pass Level-23 yet.

In the end, the level number in combination with the completed shuttle number at that level would form your Yo-Yo test score. For example: If you completed 7 shuttles of Level 15 and failed in the 8th shuttle, then 15.7 is your Yo-Yo test score.

What is a score of 16.1 mean in a Yo-Yo test?

The score of 16.1 means that the player has completed 1 shuttle of Level-16 starting from Level-5. It means the player gave up while completing the second shuttle of Level-16.

Another significance of the 16.1 test score is that the Indian Cricket team has set this score as the qualification for passing the yo-yo test. Certain players go way beyond this score but 16.1 is the minimum score you need to attain in a Yo-Yo test to be a part of the Indian Cricket team squad.

There have been times when some key Indian players have failed to attain this score and thus were excluded from the squad. A notable example is Suresh Raina who failed the Yo-Yo test before a home ODI series against New Zealand in 2016. Ambati Rayudu, Yuvraj Singh, Sanju Samson, and Mohhamed Shami have also failed the test in the past.

What are the Minimum Yo-Yo Test Scores Required by Major Cricket Teams?

As we have seen an Indian player needs to complete one shuttle if level 16 in order to qualify. The 16.1 Indian cricket team qualification score is also the lowest among the nations that use the Yo-Yo test as a qualification test. Pakistan cricket team has set 17.4  – 4 shuttles of Level-17, as their qualification score.

The qualification score for West Indies cricket is quite high at 19 wheres New Zealand have the highest qualification score of 20.1.

Although it is not mandatory for New Zealand players to attain 20.1 in the Yo-Yo test, the New Zealand cricketers take is very seriously. No wonder New Zealand is one of the fittest nations in world cricket.

What is considered as a Good Score in a Yo-Yo test?

The opinion is divided on this. Many countries have set the qualification scores as the minimum level to be achieved.

Some countries, like Pakistan, started with 17.1 as a qualification but raised it to current 17.4 by Grant Ludden, the then strength and conditioning coach for Pakistan. He believes Yo-Yo helps in better recovery rather than improving in any specific aspect of the game.

Considering that India has the lowest qualification score of 16.1, it can be said that anything above Level-15 and around Level-16 mark is a good score. If you can cross Level-18 to Level-20 then that is surely an excellent score in the Yo-Yo test.

How to get better at the Yo-Yo test?

Yo-Yo test basically helps to measure the aerobic capacity of a player. The aerobic capacity increases with a gradual increase of intensity in aerobic activity.

It has been found that slow bursts of high-intensity aerobic training aka HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) helps better to increase the aerobic capacity of a player compared to slow steady-state cardio for long hours.

The targeted HIIT training in combination with enough hydration, quantified nutrition, and sufficient rest should be sufficient to get your Yo-Yo test score on a higher side.

What are the Yo-Yo test scores of some international players?

While most of the time the qualification score is a bare minimum criterion some players do go well beyond to set their personal standards.

For India, Virat Kohli scored a 19 in the Yo-Yo test. The same goes for Hardik Pandya. Manish Pandey went ahead of Kohli to score a 19.2. Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul are around a similar mark. Mayank Dagar picked up by KXIP in IPL, made some headlines recently by scoring 19.3 in the Yo-Yo test. Hasan Ali from Pakistan had once scored 20 on a Yo-Yo test. Kagiso Rabada and AB de Villiers have reached 19.2 score.

Does Age Matter to Pass the Yo-Yo Test?

Age is not the factor to get good Yo-Yo test scores as long as the player is consistent with the Practice.

MS Dhoni is one of the fittest in the team at this age and has outscored many youngsters in the team. In 2018, Alastair Cook, 33 then, was one of the oldest players in the team, but he proved himself to be the fittest among the lot when he outlasted every other player in the English team a Yo-Yo test exercise.

What is the need for a Yo-Yo test in cricket?

A cricketer performs many acrobatic movements in the field of cricket. The twist and turn while batting, slide and throw while fielding, diving, and catching or the very act of bowling itself is quite taxing on the body of a player. This generates various niggles in the body and if enough time is not given to rest and recovery, the niggle can cause some serious long term injuries.

With an increase in international, domestic, and league cricket all around the world, the physical and mental load on cricketers is unprecedented.

The turnaround time between matches is getting shorter and so does the time needed by the body to perform the repair activities. That is why professional cricket teams are moving towards the method to measure the fitness and recovery of the players.

The Yo-Yo test is not only a measure of your aerobic fitness but also a measure of how well your body can recover itself between sprints. No team wants to take a player on a tour and then find out in the middle of the series that the player has picked up an injury. That is why the yo-yo test is gaining importance in many sports across the world.

Does it make a Difference When and Where you Take the Yo-Yo Test?

The place and timing of the Yo-Yo test do make a difference. As we go higher in the altitude the air gets thinner and thus has less oxygen content. While it doesn’t make much of a difference while breathing normally, it affects a lot during high-intensity exercise. If the Yo-Yo tests take place at such places then the players are bound to record lower scores than they normally would.

Also, tests are better to be taken place in a cooler environment early morning or the evening. A good night’s sleep is advised before taking the test. Once, Suresh Raina flunked the test due to the hectic travel schedule and the lack of enough rest.

When was the Yo-Yo Test Introduced in Cricket?

The Yo-Yo test is around for many years now, but the last decade saw its proliferation in cricket. For Indian cricket, the man responsible to introduce Yo-Yo test was the Indian team’s strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu. He introduced Yo-Yo tests for India just before India was about to leave for a tour to Sri Lanka in 2017.

Many cricketers underwent the Yo-Yo test then, however, it was not a mandatory qualification criterion all along.

Does clearing a Yo-Yo Test Guarantee Success?

Cricket is a game of skills. However, fitness is paramount, especially in the modern cricket world. Not many players in the past would have cleared the Yo-Yo test. Gavaskar went on record saying he would never have passed the test. He did alright in his career.

So, No. Clearing the Yo-Yo test does not guarantee success. But it increases the probability of success. It makes sure that you are in the best shape to perform in the next game. And would recover well enough in time for the game after that. It is a confidence booster.

Mentally you know that you have put in the yards before the game and can withstand tough situations for longer hours when in the field. The test is mental conditioning exercise as much as it is a physical one.

Many people suggest that Yo-Yo tests are good but should not be made mandatory. While there may be some merit to that argument, it is always better to have the same fitness standards across the team albeit the bar set a bit lower as needed.

Final Thoughts

Coaches and trainers are always looking for new methods to determine a player’s fitness.  While the Yo-Yo test is around for quite some time, cricket’s adaptation is very recent. Thus, everyone has questions about the test. Hope this article has answered many of the basic questions and emphasized enough on the fact that fitness is equally important in a game of skills – such as cricket. Hope you had a good read!

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of CricketMastery.com. This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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