How to Set Up Your Own Course (PARE/POPAT Tests)

As much as improving your fitness is important to prepare for the PARE test or POPAT test, learning the ins and outs of the course, as well as how to pace yourself for the tests is just as important.

It’s more than just being the fittest person. If that were the case, high level athletes wouldn’t struggle with these tests too (and it’s not for lack of fitness, it’s typically lack of strategy).

Setting up your own course will help you prepare, especially if you don’t have a practice facility to attend. You’ll need to simulate the test somehow.

Which is why I put this post together. The video is an oldie, but goodie. It’s back before I opened up the first Redline gym. But the info is important nonetheless, no matter the age of the video.

Have a look:


To set up your own course, you’ll need the following:

  • 90 feet of space lengthwise, and 30 feet of space width wise (if indoors or an enclosed area)
  • 6 -10 cones for the course (doesn’t matter the height)
  • 4 x 18″ cones for the hurdles (or any sturdy box that is 18″ in height)
  • two sticks, or dowel rods, or broomsticks, or hockey sticks or any solid thing that can be used for hurdles
  • mat for the 5 foot jump (PARE) or 6 foot jump (POPAT). If you don’t have a mat, just mark off two lines that are 5 feet apart or 6 feet apart
  • optional: homemade vault (or just do falls on the spot where the vault would be)


Setting up the course the first time can be tedious and cumbersome, but only if you’re using a measuring tape every single time. What I recommend is get a rough measurement of the distance using your steps. For example, lay out a tape measure and figure out how many steps it takes to walk 10 feet. Make sure it’s a natural stride, don’t over stride or under stride.

I know it takes me 5 steps to cover 10 feet, so that will be my reference point.

Below is a 10 step process to setting up your course:

  1. Mark the start cone and walk 20 feet forward
  2. At the 20 foot mark, put a cone down, then turn right and walk 10 feet to place the next cone.
  3. Turn around, pick up the cone in the middle, and walk it 10 feet to the left (Steps 1-3 are 1:55-2:25 in the video)
  4. Walk back to the middle, where you’re aligned with the start cone, and walk 20 feet forward
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for this as well (2:25-2:50)
  6. Walk back to the middle, in line with the start cone, and walk 20 feet forward. Place a cone here. This will indicate the middle of the “stairs”. (Optional: mark a front and back end for the “stairs”. When you perform the high knee sprints, you perform them between the two cones.)
  7. Walk another 20 feet forward and place a cone here. This will indicate the end of the course.
  8. To set up the hurdles, go to the cone that is on the right hand side when you come off the stairs. Walk 5 feet diagonally, toward the cone on the opposite side. Set up the first hurdle here.
  9. Walk 10 feet on the same diagonally line and set up the 2nd set of hurdles. (steps 8-9 are 3:50-4:25)
  10. Set up the mat next. This one is somewhat in between the hurdles. The landing end of the mat is roughly 5 feet from the cone. (4:45-5:00).


If you’re setting up for the POPAT, you can end at step 10. If you’re setting up for the PARE, there’s one more step, and that’s marking the vault. The vault is approximately 10 feet from the cone that you run around after you come off the 18″ hurdles. If you have a vault, you place it in this area. If you have no vault, you can perform your falls in this area.

There you have it. A 10 step process to setting up your own obstacle course (or 11 steps if setting up for the PARE).

This will give you the opportunity to work on individual obstacles, and put together the skills within the context of the course.

You also have the opportunity to work on your pacing skills and not just run the course as fast as possible.

Add in a push simulation and a pull simulation, and you can have your own version of the PARE or POPAT.

There’s no more excuses of not practicing the course.

Need to train for your test? Try us out for 2 weeks with our Redline Intro Trial.

Looking to run your official test or need to do a full practice? Check out the Official and Practice Testing schedule for the next available session.

And if you have any questions about training or our services, you can reach out to our Team at