The “Gauntlet” KU Women's Soccer Fitness Test

The University of Kansas Women’s Soccer team finished third in 2014 in the Big 12, which is one of the best conferences in Division I women’s soccer. KU competed with soccer powerhouses such as Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor, managing to end with a successful record of 15-6, be ranked as high as ninth in the nation during the season, and receive their first NCAA bid since 2011.

KU’s success in 2014 can be attributed to numerous things, but one major change that occurred was the required and grueling preseason fitness tests. For more than ten years the team would have to run two fitness tests, the Beep Test and a shuttle test. The players would only have to pass at least one test to play and receive gear, but if they passed both tests, they did not have to participate in extra running during preseason.

This yearly traditional routine changed in 2014 with a switch in strength coaches and in philosophies. A test called the “Gauntlet” was implemented. However, it is different from most fitness tests out there, having no required times to reach; all you have to do is finish it.

Sounds easy right? Well, here is what it is.


1 Mile
  1 Minute Rest
800 Meters
  1 Minute Rest
400 Meters
  1 Minute Rest
200 Meters
  1 Minute Rest
10 x 40 yd. Sprints

DONE (Perform the test in this order)

The Gauntlet is classified as a test and it does fulfill the required fitness test for preseason. Having said that, it is more of a competition.

·      Players vs. Players

·      Players vs. Themselves.

In the past we were only concerned with reaching a specific level and if a player failed she wasn’t fit. Last year we changed to the Gauntlet because the standards are not set by us coaches, but by the players. As a result, this test forces the players to set the competitive tone and reinforce the culture we are trying to create.
— Jessica Smith, Former KU Assistant Coach
Former KU Assistant Coach, Jessica Smith

Former KU Assistant Coach, Jessica Smith

The Ranking System:

After players have completed the Gauntlet, their times are recorded for each part (1 mile, 800 M, 400 M, etc.) and then ranked from fasted to slowest. Whichever place they end up receiving, gets them points. If a player gets first in the one mile, they receive one point. If they get ranked 17th, they receive seventeen points. YOU DON’T WANT POINTS. 

The test is not pass or fail. Everyone is going to pass, but the results show who pushes herself when she is tired and who has the desire to win
— Caroline VanSlambrouck, KU Alum
Photo Credit: University of Kansas Athletics

Photo Credit: University of Kansas Athletics


For a senior, the following times were expected.  

Mile- 6:30
800- 3:15
400- 1:15
200- 0:35
40s: 6.7s (under 7s)

The KU soccer team celebrates finishing the grueling Gauntlet and welcomes the 2014 Preseason

The KU soccer team celebrates finishing the grueling Gauntlet and welcomes the 2014 Preseason

The Gauntlet is a test of mentality. A test of dedication. A test of internal motivation. A test to be the best…. Can you do it?