The "Beep Test" was brought to Detroit by head coach Steve Mariucci, who used it in San Francisco. It originated in Europe to train soccer and rugby players and has now found a home in the NFL. It is really not a test or a drill, but rather an evaluation of cardiovascular fitness. It is considered to be low-impact and open-ended, which means the players can stop whenever they get tired.
How it works is that players will run 20-yards segments (starting at the goal line and running to the 20-yard line and then back to the goal line) back and forth continuously paced by the beeps. The beeps sound every nine seconds initially, which means each athlete has nine seconds to run the 20 yards before the next beep.
With each passing minute, the time between beeps decrease approximately .25 seconds. So, after the athletes have been running for a minute, the time to complete each 20-yard segment is 8.75 seconds.
Most NFL athletes will last around 12-13 minutes before they drop out. If an athlete does not make the line before the beep, they are also considered out. The concept is for each athlete to run as far as they can.
Back in April, Mariucci held the first Beep test. Quarterback Mike McMahon went the longest as he completed 130 20-yard segments. In May, the rookies ran the same drill and fifth-round draft choice Terrence Holt set the (unofficial) NFL record of 140 segments completed.
Mariucci said he has used the test for seven years and always enjoys the competition between participants in a safe and low risk manner.
"I typically do this once in the off-season with the guys," Mariucci said. "There are all kinds of conditioning tests and we’ve all been through them. This one happens to be one where you’re not asking everybody to run a mile and a half or everybody to run the same amount of time because everybody is a different size, weight and shape. So you just go as far as you can as long as you can. There is low risk for injury or pulling a muscle or any of that sort of thing."