One of the variables of program design is current athlete ability. How well do they move? Are there any asymmetries between the two sides of the body? How high do they jump… how fast do they run… these are some of the questions we attempt to answer before putting an athlete through any workout regimen. We have created a systemized screening tool that is in no way nationally accredited or certified. But, for our situation, we feel it is the best and most accurate method (at this time) to determine current athletic ability with new clients.
This is the first portion of our screening process. This is our chance to get to know the athlete in more ways than one. After the basic screening questions like health history, injury history, current height and weight, and past training history, we like to establish the “why” behind their training. “What brings you to TP today?” Not only does this show the athlete we care, but we use it is a reference point for those who stick around for the long haul. We often lose sight of goals through the mundane routine that can be life. Referencing goals set from the beginning gives the athlete and coach a chance to refocus.
Functional Movement Screening (FMS)
The FMS is a screening tool used to determine musculoskeletal dysfunction for someone who currently isn’t showing symptoms of dysfunction. The FMS claims to be a predictor of injury, however studies have had mixed results showing the test’s ability to do just that. We use 6 of the current 7 screening methods as a way to test for asymmetries, motor control, and mobility. We do not use the FMS to predict injury. It is a systematized way to set a benchmark of movement ability that we can refer back to, and see if our programming cleaned up the movements. Also, inability to complete certain movements without asymmetry between limbs or pain will determine what exercises go into their program. For example, an athlete that scores poorly on the “Straight Leg Raise” will not be allowed to complete loaded hinge patterns like the RDL. We will prescribe corrective exercises to help the movement, and as they progress through the correctives, they will then be exposed to the RDL.
Basic Human Movement Ability
Beyond the FMS, we like to get our athletes moving in space. How well do they before basic human movements like the: squat, hip hinge, horizontally press/ pull, vertically press/pull, rotate, laterally bend, and trunk strength. These movements require multiple joints to work in unison to complete the movement. If there is a lack of motor pattern ability, muscular “tightness,” or force leaks, we will be able to more accurately prescribe exercises that target these areas of dysfunction.
This is the last portion of the screening process. The previous activities acted as a minor warm up for these upcoming tests. Due to the nature of performance testing, we also require our athletes to complete a modified dynamic warm up for athlete safety. Tests include: counter movement jump, static squat jump, broad jump, 10 yard sprint, and the 5-10-5 drill. The size of our facility limits our ability to measure speed outside of acceleration ability. Gaining mass while jumping higher and longer, and running faster often times tells us that we are doing our job with our athletes.
In the Future
After collecting data from these screens, and testing the results of our programs we will be able to make these tests more appropriate to our population of athletes. Including things like body composition, 40 yard dash times, possibly a force plate :) will allow us to increase the individualization of athlete programs. This in turn will produce greater results in the gym that will transfer to their sport.
Thanks for your time!
Coach Nate Garcia