Cooper’s test

Synonyms in the broadest sense

Endurance test, endurance run, 12 minute runThe Cooper Test is a 12 minute run. Named after the American sports physician Kenneth H. Cooper, this test is used in schools, in the army, in the selection of referees and in various sports games to test endurance performance. The test is easy to perform and can be evaluated quickly.

The Cooper test is usually performed on the 400m tartan track. It is run for 12 minutes in a row. At the end of the Cooper test, the distance run is measured and the performance is read off using fixed tables. The individual values are listed below.


Especially in school, the Cooper Test is a very popular instrument for testing the stamina of students. A Cooper test can be done while running, but also while swimming. In school, however, it is not permitted in every state to replace the Cooper test in running with a Cooper test in swimming.

Especially people who prefer to swim rather than run can compensate for a possible disadvantage and still achieve a good result. For others, the Cooper test in running is much more interesting, because they do not have to pay so much attention to their breathing technique. Students differentiate between two swimming styles, breaststroke and freestyle swimming.

For the students, breaststroke you need 550 meters swim distance in twelve minutes to reach 15 points and thus get a 1+. With 300 metres swum distance you get five points and therefore an even four. In freestyle the distances are a bit longer.

You need 600 meters for a 1+, and if you want to get an even four, you have to swim 350 meters in freestyle. The students also differentiate between breaststroke and freestyle. In breaststroke, a student needs to cover 500 metres to finish with 15 points and a 1+.

For 250 metres in the breaststroke position, at least another four points can be achieved. Female students who wish to take the Cooper Test in freestyle need 550 meters completed to score 15 points. Five points, and therefore an even four, are awarded to students who swam 300 meters in freestyle. The other scores will be scaled down from the top scores for students in 25 point increments.


In a Cooper test in running, as many metres as possible must be covered in twelve minutes. The main purpose of this test is to check the endurance performance of the athletes, and thus also their fitness level. For experienced runners, this test can also be used to determine the maximum oxygen intake.

The Cooper test is not a test for beginners, as you should be able to assess your performance. Otherwise it can happen that you run too fast at the beginning and therefore build up lactate too quickly. This can lead to a drastic drop in performance at the end of the twelve minutes.

The test should be carried out under controlled conditions to obtain repeatable and comparable results. For this purpose, a standard 400 meter tartan track should be available, care should be taken that the temperatures are neither too high nor too low (approx. 20 – 25° C are recommended) and the test persons should be in the best of health and rested.

Any previous illnesses should be urgently clarified with a doctor before starting a Cooper test. The evaluation of the results is done in the same way as a Cooper test in swimming, using a table. However, there is a graduation according to the age of the participants.

Furthermore, a distinction is made between normal sportsmen and juniors, as well as trained athletes. For a very good performance in the normal sportsmen and juniors, the group of the 13 and 14 year olds needs more than 2700 meters for the boys and more than 2000 meters for the girls. The 15 and 16 year olds need an additional 100 meters each (2800m and 2100m) to achieve a very good performance.

The 17 to 20 year olds need 200m more than the younger age group with 3000m (male) and 2300m (female). The performance of the 20 to 29 year olds is already decreasing again, with which they achieve a very good result. 2800m for the men and 2700m for the women are needed.

It is noticeable that the difference between the sexes becomes smaller with increasing age. In the group of trained athletes, men are required to cover a distance of at least 3700m for a very good performance. In the women’s group it is also a high value of 3000 meters, which hardly any normal athlete will reach. The Cooper Test is used not only for athletes but also for referees when it is necessary to check whether the physical requirements for leading a match are met. The Cooper Test is also used in schools, in the army, in the Foreign Legion and by the Federal Police.