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.

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. Outdoor basketball courts or tennis courts are good spaces, or empty parking lots)
  • 6 -10 cones for the course (doesn’t matter the height)
  • 4 x 18″ cones for the hurdles (or anything that is 18″ in height)
  • two sticks, or dowel rods, or broomsticks, or hockey sticks or any solid thing that can be used to jump over
  • 5 foot mat for the PARE or a 6 foot mat for the POPAT (although in BC, it’s now 5 feet for the mat jump). Yoga mats are perfect for the mat jump. If you don’t have a mat, mark off two lines that are 5 feet apart or 6 feet apart.
  • optional: homemade vault for the PARE (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.

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

Below is the set up process for the POPAT:


And this is the set up for the PARE:


There you have it. A process to set up your own obstacle course for the PARE or POPAT.

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