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Twenty-metre shuttle run: (mis)representation, (mis)interpretation and (mis)use
  1. Neil Armstrong,
  2. Jo Welsman
  1. Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Neil Armstrong, Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK; n.armstrong{at}

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Recent publications in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) (mis)represent and (mis)interpret young people’s cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and potentially (mis)inform health promotion and clinical practice. 1 2 The papers recognise peak VO2as the criterion measure of CRF but base their estimations of peak VO2 on performances in 20 m shuttle runs (20mSRT). Moreover, and of serious concern to us, estimated peak VO2 is (mis)represented and (mis)interpreted in ratio with body mass (ie, in mL/kg/min).

The papers identify a few of the limitations of shuttle running but a recent meta-analysis succinctly summarised the issues. It demonstrated that with children, over half of correlation coefficients between 20mSRT scores and peak VO2 explain less than 50% of the variance in peak VO2. The meta-analysis reported that the criterion-related validity of the 20mSRT with children was only ‘moderate’ and concluded, ‘testers must be aware that the performance score of the 20MSR test is simply estimation and not a direct measure of cardiorespiratory fitness’.3

An example of specious interpretation of 20mSRT scores is the assertion that …

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  • Contributors NA and JW conceived the manuscript. NA drafted the manuscript. Both authors reviewed the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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