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NASM Shark Skill Test – An Assessment that Promotes Lower Body Agility and Balance

If you are a fitness trainer, you know the importance of assessing your clients to determine their fitness levels and abilities. 

Whatever skill test you decide to use, the results must guide you on how to proceed with your clients to ensure they are successful. 

That’s where the NASM shark skill test comes into play.  It’s a skill test that is so powerful it’s named after a shark. 

You can’t go wrong with that.

What is the NASM?

NASM, National Academy of Sports Medicine, is a world-renown fitness trainer certification that is NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) accredited.  This popular certification is well-known and highly respected throughout the fitness industry. 

The certification teaches fitness instructors how to assess a client’s potential to develop the right workout program for them.  You can also get certified in nutrition with NASM. 

Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent and certified in CPR and AED can sign up for a NASM course and learn how to become a certified fitness instructor.  There are multiple different course curriculums to choose from depending on how much guidance you need. 

The courses range from $899 to $2,699, with discounts available all of the time.  Once you pass the NASM exam with a 70%, you are a fitness professional.  Mic drop! 

For an in-depth description of becoming a NASM fitness trainer, check out our NASM personal trainer review.

There are physical assessments you learn within the NASM curriculum that calculate a client’s skill level based on multiple factors.  First, there is the cardiorespiratory assessment that features a three-minute step test and a Rockport walk test. 

Next, the posture and movement assessment involve a dynamic postural, overhead squat, single-leg squat, pushing, and pulling tests. 

Finally, the performance assessment techniques test your skills with the Davies and shark skill test. 

They also measure your upper and lower body strength with a bench press and a squat.  This tests your client’s abilities to perform specific exercises and enables the trainer to understand fitness levels better.

NASM Shark Skill Test

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Within the NASM certification, you will learn how to perform the NASM shark skill test on clients. 

By measuring a client’s lower body agility, muscle control, and single-leg functional balance, the shark skill tests assess the client’s lower extremity agility, providing information for progress in future workout sessions. 

Once clients perform this skill test, a fitness trainer can learn about the strengths and weaknesses and provide a training program that works for each client. 

Let’s learn how to perform it.

How does the Shark Skill Test Work?

To begin, a fitness trainer must set up a 3×3 square grid on the floor with nine boxes.  Each square should be 12” and the squares can be boxed off with tape or chalk. 

The starting position is the client in the middle of the grid, standing on one leg with hands on hips.  Now it’s time to take the shark skill test.  Have the client hop in a specific pattern into each box but always returning to the starting box at the end of each pattern. 

Give the client a practice run with each foot.  After that, perform the shark skill test on the client twice with each foot.  Time must be tracked and recorded.  Add .10 seconds to the time if the client’s non-hopping leg touches the ground or their hands come off their hips. 

Also, add time if their foot goes into the wrong square or their foot doesn’t return to the center square at the end of the pattern.  This skill test is a progression from the single-leg squat test. 

If you find that the client struggles with the single-leg skill test, it might be worth waiting until they have mastered that before taking on the challenge of the shark skill test.  

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We mentioned the Davies test earlier.  This is another assessment, but this test measures upper body strength and stability.  Two pieces of tape are placed on the floor, 36” apart. 

The client starts in the push-up position with a hand on each piece of tape.  To perform the Davies skill test, the client must quickly move their left hand to touch their right hand and vice versa. 

Keep this going for 15 seconds, recording the number of touches.  Repeat this three times to assess upper body agility.  This test can be performed in the future to re-assess the client’s abilities and note improvements.

The left test is another NASM skill test that assesses athletic ability or the capability of returning to a sport after an injury.  To start, place two cones ten feet apart and have the client stand next to one of the cones. 

The client must sprint to the other cone and then backpedal to the starting cone.  Next, side shuffle to the other cone and side shuffle back.  For the next exercise, carioca or sidestep to the other cone and then carioca back. 

Finally, do a full sprint to the other cone.  All of these exercises are times and recorded.  

Final Thoughts on Shark Skill Test

When your clients are ready to take a bite out of their workout, have them perform the NASM Shark Skill test.  See what we did there?  Sharks bite.  Get it? 

Once your clients have shown you their potential with this test and various other skill tests, you can determine the right workout program for them. 

Help them understand why lower and upper body agility is vital for long-term health benefits and functional fitness. 

Tell them to purchase an agility ladder and get to work.  If you do all of that, your job as a fitness professional will be successful.

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