Most students ring in the new school year by shopping for new notebooks or making friends with their dorm mates down the hall. The Georgia soccer players prepare by hydrating, conditioning and trying to get a full eight hours of sleep before they take the beep test, a competition that will determine their place within the team for the rest of the season.
The multistage fitness test, commonly known to college student-athletes as the beep test, is the ultimate test of both physical endurance and mental conviction.
This test involves running inside two lines 20 meters apart between recorded beeps, with the beeps sounding in continuously decreasing intervals. Players who make it back to the starting line before each round of beeps will pass, and those who fail to make their times will take the test again the next day.
“For days, you’re preparing for it,” junior midfielder/defender Landon Lambert said. “The night before running it I was tossing and turning. I get more stressed [about it] than games.”
This year, the Georgia soccer team has raised its standard of conditioning through difficult workouts during the summer. The Bulldogs hope their increased endurance will help establish a winning culture when the season starts on Aug. 22 against Purdue. They haven’t had a winning season since 2014.
The key to success for Georgia is more than a balanced diet and sleep schedule or the way the players pace themselves — it’s a sense of community.
“[It works] when they’re committed together or when they have a sense of accountability,” head coach Billy Lesesne said. “It’s so much harder to do it alone. Being involved in the collective unit and all working together has been a message that has resonated well with the girls.”
Aside from the mentality of accountability, the consequences of failure also motivate players to stay in the best shape possible.
The July beep test has been a large deciding factor in how the rest of the season will go for each player in terms of playing time and how they are seen by their coaches. Training for the test starts weeks in advance to ensure a pass on the first try.
“It’s the first thing that [the coaches] see you do for the beginning of the entire season,” Lambert said. “If you don’t pass, they’re going to think you didn’t put in the work in the summer, so you really want to show them the first time, ‘I’ve been doing what I need to do.’”
Sophomore defender Cecily Stoute said the coaches place incentives on the beep test.
“[The coaches] put so much into it,” she said. “You get gear. [It affects] your playing time. If you don’t pass you have to run it again. It’s just like, ‘I just want to get it over with.’”
The team said it’s currently in a better state of conditioning than in past seasons. All but two players passed the beep test this year. The coaching staff even made it harder to pass, Lesesne said.
“It’s a full commitment and buy-in from the entire group,” he said. “I think that puts us in a really good place.”