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Original Research

Can Selected Functional Movement Screen Assessments Be Used to Identify Movement Deficiencies That Could Affect Multidirectional Speed and Jump Performance?

Lockie, Robert G.; Schultz, Adrian B.; Jordan, Corrin A.; Callaghan, Samuel J.; Jeffriess, Matthew D.; Luczo, Tawni M.

Author Information
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: January 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue 1 - p 195-205
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000613
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Abstract

Introduction

Multidirectional speed and leg power, which comprises linear and change-of-direction movements (25), are a necessary component of many team sports. There are numerous physical capacities that are said to contribute to multidirectional speed and power, including an athlete's anthropometrical characteristics, muscle strength and power, and the resulting movement technique (41). An important consideration for team sport athletes is that this strength and power, particularly in the lower limbs, can be expressed through effective and efficient sport-specific movements. Anecdotal information infers that strength and conditioning coaches use certain tests to monitor their athlete's ability to perform certain movement patterns and to assess the quality of these movements (17). This type of testing relates to functional movement, which has been defined as the ability to perform locomotor, manipulative, and stabilizing actions, while maintaining control along the kinetic chain (6).

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) was developed to evaluate these capacities, and is comprised of 7 actions, which have been described in detail (6,7,13,20,32,34,35). The actions are the deep squat, hurdle step (HS), in-line lunge (ILL), shoulder mobility, active straight-leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability. These movements have been labeled as challenging an individual's ability to facilitate movement in a proximal-to-distal fashion (6). A weakness at a point in the kinetic chain responsible for these movements can result in a decrease in performance, which is then scored accordingly out of three. Previous research has suggested that the identification of these deficiencies, and thus the results attained from the FMS, could be used to predict injury risk in athletes (5,20). On reviewing FMS literature with a view toward strength and conditioning in sports, Gamble (17) stated that there needed to be further analyses to confirm the value of the FMS for injury screening. More notably, Gamble (17) also stated that there is a paucity of literature investigating the hypothesized relationship between the FMS and athletic performance.

This is pertinent, as it has been inferred that a number of different physical components contribute to the movements produced in the FMS, including relative strength, coordination, dynamic stability, and flexibility (6,20). These characteristics are also important for sport-specific actions such as linear sprinting, changing direction, and jumping and landing (9,23,41). This may imply that an athlete's scores in the FMS could manifest in their performance in sport-specific assessments. However, previous research has indicated limitations in the relationships between FMS scores and performance tests (34,36). For example, Parchmann and McBride (36) found that FMS scores did not relate to 10-m (r = −0.136) and 20-m (r = −0.107) sprint time, vertical jump (VJ) height (r = 0.249), or T-test time (r = −0.146), in collegiate golfers. Nonetheless, if only selected screens are considered, this might provide more value to the data. Particularly concerning the lower-body focused exercises such as the DS, HS, and ILL, the movements required can be conceptualized in running and change-of-direction movements (32). Indeed, Okada et al. (34) found moderate relationships between the left-leg ILL to the T-test in recreationally active individuals (r = −0.46).

The scores obtained in the DS, HS, and ILL may be able to identify deficiencies that could affect multidirectional speed and jump performance, due to similarities in the movements required. As an example, an appropriate range of hip flexion is required in each of these lower-body focused screens (6) and during maximal sprinting (28). In addition to this, neither of the subject groups assessed by Okada et al. (34) and Parchmann and McBride (36) have the dependence of multidirectional speed and jumping that is required for team sport athletes. Given the specific physical capacities required by athletes from team sports, the value of the FMS as it relates to performance should be investigated independently in this population. Furthermore, Okada et al. (34) and Parchmann and McBride (36) did not assess unilateral movements to any great extent. This is relevant for team sport athletes, as maximal unilateral VJs have been linked to 25-m sprint time in soccer players (r = −0.58 to −0.71) (30), whereas between-leg eccentric strength deficiencies relate to poorer multidirectional speed in experienced team sport athletes (25). As numerous tests within the FMS assess movements unilaterally, the association with the FMS and dynamic unilateral actions should be established. If there are relationships between the FMS and athletic performance, then the scoring system (and selected screens) could be used to identify movement deficiencies that could affect multidirectional speed and jumping.

Therefore, this study analyzed relationships between screens that focused on the lower-body (DS, HS, and ILL) and overall FMS performance, with tests of multidirectional speed (20-m sprint, 505, and modified T-test) and jumping ability (bilateral and unilateral vertical, standing long, and lateral jumps (LJs)) in healthy male athletes. The 20-m sprint was used as it is a common speed test used for team sport athletes (10,12,14). The 505 is also a popular test for team sport athletes (16,22,27), as it isolates cutting off 1 leg (11). The T-test involves movements performed in team sports such as linear accelerations, side-shuffling, and backward running (10,15,38,40), and a modified version shortens the test distances to make the assessment more team sport-specific (38). Jump tests are also commonly employed as indirect assessments of leg power in athletes (22,31,37). As team sport athletes need to demonstrate effective lower-limb joint range of motion during sprinting, changing direction, and jumping, it was hypothesized that better performance in the selected screens, and the FMS as a whole, would correlate with multidirectional speed and jump tests, due to similarities in movement mechanics. It is further hypothesized that higher scores in certain screens will differentiate between better and lesser performing athletes in the multidirectional speed and jump tests. This study will provide valuable information for strength and conditioning coaches, who can define their need for certain screening exercises in their athletes.

Methods

Experimental Approach to the Problem

This study analyzed the relationship between scores derived from the FMS (DS, HS, ILL, and overall score), and those attained from tests of multidirectional speed and jumping that are commonly used in team sport athlete assessment. Certain FMS screens were omitted from the individual analysis (shoulder mobility, active straight-leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability), as they were not movement-specific in relation to sprinting and jumping. Screens that had relationships to the athletic tests used to investigate the physical characteristics of high- (screening score of 3, which is the highest attainable), intermediate- (score of 2), and low-performing (score of 1) subjects. Relationships between the FMS and multidirectional speed and jump tests were investigated by Pearson's correlations. A 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), with post hoc analysis, was used to determine differences in athletic performance between groups as defined by screening scores. The dependent variables were: FMS scores; 0- to 5-m, 0- to 10-m, and 0- to 20-m times; 505 times with 180° turns off each leg; modified T-test times with movement initiation to the left and right; bilateral and unilateral VJ height; bilateral and unilateral standing long jump (SLJ) distance; and unilateral LJ distance. Percentage differences in the change-of-direction speed tests with turns to the left or right, and unilateral jumping between the legs, were also analyzed.

Subjects

Twenty-two male recreational team sport athletes (age = 24.23 ± 3.82 years; height = 1.81 ± 0.08 m; body mass = 81.86 ± 13.09 kg), volunteered to participate in this study. Subjects were recruited if they: were 18 years of age or older; currently participated in a team sport (e.g., soccer, basketball, rugby league, rugby union, Australian football, touch football); had a training history (≥2 times per week) extending over the previous year; were currently training (≥3 times per week); and did not have any medical conditions compromising participation in the study. To further limit the influence of any injuries that could affect FMS scoring, inclusion and exclusion criteria were adopted from Chorba et al. (5). Subjects were included in the study if they had not sustained an injury in the previous 30 days that prohibited them from full participation in regular training and sports competition. Subjects were excluded if they did sustain an injury in the previous 30 days that affected training and competition participation, or had a recent surgical intervention that limited sports participation on the recommendation of their private physician. Subjects maintained their normal physical activity for the study duration, which occurred within the competition season for all subjects. The institutional ethics committee approved the procedures used in this study. All subjects received a clear explanation of the study, including the risks and benefits of participation, and written informed consent was obtained before testing.

Procedures

Testing was conducted over 3 sessions, each separated by 1 week. The first testing session included the FMS assessment. The second testing session incorporated the 20-m sprint; bilateral and unilateral VJ; bilateral and unilateral SLJ; and unilateral LJ. The third testing session involved the 505 change-of-direction speed test, and the modified T-test. Each session lasted for 30–60 minutes in duration, and was performed in the aforementioned order because of time and equipment restrictions in the laboratory. As will be detailed, appropriate rest intervals were provided between tests to ensure subjects did not fatigue. All assessments were conducted in the biomechanics laboratory, with a textured concrete floor, and subjects wore their own running shoes for all tests. Subjects refrained from intensive exercise, and abstained from caffeine or any form of stimulant, in the 24-hour period before testing.

Before data collection in the first session, the subject's age, height, and body mass were recorded. Height was measured barefoot using a portable stadiometer (Ecomed Trading, Seven Hills, Australia). Body mass was recorded by electronic digital scales (Tanita Corporation, Tokyo, Japan). Subjects were then assessed in the FMS. For the second and third testing sessions, subjects completed a standardized warm-up, which consisted of 10 minutes of jogging at a self-selected pace on a treadmill, 10 minutes of dynamic stretching of the lower limbs, and progressive speed runs over the testing distances. Familiarization to the change-of-direction speed tests was incorporated into the warm-up for testing session 3. Subjects were assessed in the same order across each of the testing sessions at the same time of day and were permitted to hydrate as required. For each unilateral jump test, between-leg differences were expressed as a percentage through the formula: (leg with better jump performance − leg with lesser jump performance)/leg with better jump performance × 100. The better-performing leg was defined as the leg with the superior jump performance.

Functional Movement Screen

The FMS used 7 functional movements and 3 clearing examinations (6,7,13,32,34,35). The screening tests, as stipulated by Frost et al. (13), were: (a) DS: a dowel was held overhead with arms extended, and the subject squatted as low as possible; (b) HS: a dowel was held across the shoulders, and the subject stepped over a hurdle in front of them that was level with their tibial tuberosity; (c) ILL: with a dowel held vertically behind the subject such that it contacted the head, back, and sacrum, and with the feet aligned, the subject performed a split squat; (d) shoulder mobility: the subject attempted to touch their fists together behind their back (internal and external shoulder rotation); (e) active straight-leg raise: lying supine with their head on the ground, the subject actively raised 1 leg as high as possible; (f) trunk stability push-up: the subject performed a push-up with their hands shoulder width apart; and (g) rotary stability: the subject assumed a 4-point, quadruped position and attempted to touch their knee and elbow, ipsilaterally and contralaterally. Clearing tests were also employed for shoulder mobility, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability (6,7). The shoulder mobility clearing test involved the subject placing their hand on the opposite shoulder and attempting to point the elbow upward. A spinal extension clearing test was used for the trunk stability push-up, whereby the subject performed a press-up from the push-up start position, while maintaining contact between the hips and the ground. The rotary stability clearing test involved spinal flexion. From the 4-point position, subjects slowly rocked back and attempted to touch the buttocks to the heels and chest to the thighs, with the hands remaining as far in front of the body as possible. The reliability of these assessment protocols has been established (32,35,39).

The scoring checklists used for the FMS have been presented in the literature (6,7,13,34) and were adopted for this study. As stated, the DS, HS, and ILL as individual tests were the focus of this research. However, subjects completed all screens so that an overall score could be attained. Three repetitions of each task were completed, and the best performed repetition was graded (6,7). Approximately 5 seconds of rest were provided between trials, 1 minute of rest between tests, and subjects returned to the starting position between each trial (34). Subjects were videotaped by 2 video camcorders (Sony Electronics Inc., Tokyo, Japan), positioned anteriorly and laterally (13,32). Two qualified exercise scientists, trained and experienced with the FMS, analyzed subjects live and reviewed the video footage if required, and scored each subject individually. Each movement was scored from 0 to 3. Scores of 3, 2, 1, and 0, represented, according to relevant criteria: “performed without compensation,” “performed with compensation,” “could not perform,” and “pain,” respectively (6,7,13). Using guidelines from Frost et al. (13), a movement completed with a single compensation scored a 2; more than 1 compensation scored 1. If there was any scoring discrepancy between the investigators, they reviewed the footage and discussed the result until a resolution was reached. Except for the DS and trunk stability push-up, each side of the body was assessed within the screens. An overall cumulative score of 21 was the highest a subject could attain. For tasks that required assessments of both sides of the body, the lowest score contributed to the overall score (6,7,13,32,34,35). For the purpose of this research, individual scores for each side of the body for the HS and ILL were also considered in the final analysis.

Table 1
Table 1:
Correlations between Functional Movement Screen assessments (DS, HS, and ILL) for the left and right sides of the body, and the overall score, and measures of multidirectional speed (20-m sprint; 0- to 5-m, 0- to 10-m, and 0- to –20-m intervals; 505 and modified T-test with turns toward the left and right, and percentage differences in turns to each side) in healthy, recreational male team sport athletes (n = 22).*

Twenty-Meter Sprint

Twenty-meter sprint time was recorded by a timing lights system (Fusion Sports, Coopers Plains, Australia). Gates were positioned at 0, 5, 10, and 20 m, to measure the 0- to 5-m, 0- to 10-m, and 0- to 20-m intervals. Sprints over 5 (23,24), 10 (23,24), and 20 m (10,12,14) have been used in the assessment of team sport athletes. Gate height was set at 1.2 m. Subjects began the sprint from a standing start 30 cm behind the start line to trigger the first gate. Once ready, subjects were allowed to start in their own time and were instructed to run maximally once they initiated their sprint. Subjects completed 3 trials, with 3-minute recovery between each trial, and the fastest trial was used for analysis. If the subject rocked backward or forward before starting, the trial was disregarded and repeated. Time for each interval was recorded to the nearest 0.001 seconds.

Bilateral and Unilateral Vertical Jump

The VJ was used as an indirect measure of leg power in the vertical plane. A Yardstick apparatus (Swift Performance Equipment, Wacol, Australia) was used to measure jump performance (37). The subject initially stood side-on to the Yardstick (on their dominant side), and while keeping their heels on the floor, reached upward as high as possible, fully elevating the shoulder to displace as many vanes as possible. The last vane moved was recorded as the standing reach height and became the zero reference for VJ assessment. The bilateral VJ involved the subject then jumping as high as possible using a 2-foot take-off, with no preparatory step, and height was recorded in centimeters from highest vane moved. No restrictions were placed on range of motion during the preparatory crouch. Vertical jump height was calculated by subtracting the standing reach height from the jump height. After the bilateral jumps, subjects completed unilateral jumps in the same manner, the order of which was randomized between subjects, for both legs. Subjects took off from 1 leg and then landed on both feet. Each subject completed 3 trials for each jump condition, with 2 minutes of recovery between each trial, and the best trial was used for analysis.

Bilateral and Unilateral Standing Long Jump

The SLJ was used as an indirect measure of horizontal power. The subject placed the toes of both feet on the back of the start line. With a simultaneous arm swing and crouch, the subject then leaped as far forward as possible, ensuring a 2-footed landing. Subjects had to “stick” the landing for the trial to be counted. If this was not done, the trial was disregarded and another completed. No restrictions were placed on range of motion during the countermovement or the arm swing used. Using protocols established within the literature (26,37), the distance was measured to the nearest 0.01 m using a standard metric tape measure (HART Sport, Aspley, Australia) perpendicularly from the front of the start line to the posterior surface of the heel at the landing. After the bilateral jumps, subjects completed unilateral jumps in the same manner, for both the left and right legs (31). Subjects took off from 1 leg and then landed on both feet. The distance jumped was measured in the same manner as the bilateral SLJ, and the order of which leg was tested first was randomized amongst the subjects. Each subject completed 3 trials for each jump condition, and the best trial was used. Two minutes recovery was allocated between each trial.

Lateral Jump

Lateral jump performance was used as an indirect measure of lateral power for each leg. The subject started by standing on the testing leg with the medial border of the foot at the start line (31); for example, for a left-leg jump, the medial border of the left foot was placed on the start line. The subject was allowed to self-select the distance of the preparatory crouch before jumping laterally to the inside as far as possible and landing on 2 feet. To be consistent with the other jump tests, no restrictions were placed on range of motion of the arm swing or take-off leg during the preparatory crouch. The distance jumped was measured to the nearest 0.01 m using established methods (26,31), perpendicularly from the start line to the lateral margin of the take-off leg with a standard tape measure. If subjects over-balanced on landing, the trial was disregarded and reattempted. The order in determining which leg was tested first was randomized. Each subject completed 3 trials for each leg, 2 minutes recovery was allocated between trials, and the best trial for each leg was used for analysis.

505 Change-of-Direction Speed Test

As stated, the 505 was used in this study because of its common use in team sport assessment, as it can isolate the change-of-direction ability for each leg (16,22,27). The 505 was structured as per established methods (11), with 1 timing gate. During the warm-up, subjects familiarized themselves with the movement patterns required for the 505. Subjects used a standing start with the same body position as per the 20-m sprint, with their front foot 30 cm behind the start line. The subjects sprinted through the timing gate to the turning line, indicated by a line marked on the laboratory floor and markers. Subjects were to place either the left or right foot, depending on the trial, on the line and turn 180°, before sprinting back through the gate. Three trials were recorded for turns off the left and right foot, the order of which was randomized amongst the subjects. Gate height was set at 1.2 m, and time was recorded to the nearest 0.001 seconds. Three-minute recovery was allocated between trials. If the subject changed direction before hitting the turning point, or turned off the incorrect foot, the trial was disregarded and reattempted after the required rest period. The fastest trial for each of the 505 conditions was used. Percentage differences between the left- and right-foot turns were calculated through the formula: (slower time − faster time)/slower time × 100.

Modified T-Test

The T-test incorporates movements common to team sport athletes (10,15,38,40) and thus was used for this study. A modified T-test with reduced distances was used, as it is more specific to field and court sport athletes, and markers were positioned according to established methods (38). A start line was clearly identified by tape positioned on the laboratory floor, and 1, 1.2-m high timing gate was used. Subjects were required to face forward at all time during the test. To start the test, subjects sprinted forward 5 m to touch the top of the middle marker. They then side-shuffled 2.5 m to the left or right, depending on the trial, to touch the next marker, side-shuffled 5 m in the opposite direction to touch the next marker, side-shuffled 2.5 m back to touch the middle marker again, before back-pedaling past the start line to finish the test. The hand that was on the same side as the shuffle direction (i.e., the left hand when shuffling to the left, and the right hand when shuffling to the right) was used to touch the marker. Six trials were completed in total; 3 with movement initiation at the middle marker to the left, and 3 with movement initiation to the right. The order of trials was randomized amongst the subject group, 2-minute rest was allocated between trials, and the best trial from each T-test condition was used. Subjects were not to cross their feet when side-shuffling; if they did, the trial was stopped and reattempted. As for the 505, percentage differences between the T-tests with movement initiation to the left or right were calculated through the formula: (slower time − faster time)/slower time × 100.

Statistical Analyses

All statistical analyses were computed using the Statistics Package for Social Sciences (Version 20.0; IBM Corporation, New York, NY, USA). Descriptive statistics (mean ± SD; 90% confidence intervals) were calculated for each test parameter. The Levene statistic was used to determine homogeneity of variance of the data. Pearson's correlation analysis (p ≤ 0.05) was used to compare relationships between the screening scores and the multidirectional speed and jump tests. The strength of the correlation coefficient was designated a descriptor as per Hopkins (18). For this study, an r value between 0 to 0.30, and 0 to −0.30, was considered small; 0.31 to 0.49 and −0.31 to −0.49, moderate; 0.50 to 0.69 or −0.50 to −0.69, large; 0.70 to 0.89 or −0.70 to −0.89, very large; and 0.90 to 1 or −0.90 to −1, near perfect for predicting relationships.

On the basis of the correlations, screens that had significant relationships to any performance tests were investigated further using a 1-way ANOVA. Subjects were stratified into groups according to their score for each screen (3, 2, or 1). Subjects scoring 3 were high performers; 2 were intermediate performers; and 1 was low performer. According to these groups, any significant (p ≤ 0.05) differences between the multidirectional speed and jump tests were computed. Post hoc analysis was conducted for between-group pairwise comparisons using a Bonferroni adjustment for multiple comparisons.

Results

Regarding the screening scores, the mean for the DS was 1.95 ± 0.79; for the left- and right-leg HS, 1.59 ± 0.73 and 1.77 ± 0.81, respectively; and for the left- and right-leg ILL, 2.68 ± 0.57 and 2.59 ± 0.67, respectively. The mean overall score was 15.09 ± 2.18. Table 1 displays the correlations between the individual screens and overall score and the 20-m sprint, 505 and modified T-test. There were only 4 significant relationships. A moderate negative correlation was found between the DS and the difference in 505 time between turns from each leg (p = 0.050), which implied that a higher-scored DS related to a lower between-leg difference in the 505. There were large positive correlations between the percentage differences for the left and right modified T-test and the HS for each leg (left leg, p = 0.015; right leg, p = 0.005), and a moderate correlation with the overall FMS score (p = 0.045). These relationships indicated that a higher modified T-test difference related to higher screening scores.

Table 2
Table 2:
Correlations between Functional Movement Screen assessments (DS, HS, and ILL) for the left and right sides of the body, and the overall score, and measures of bilateral (2), unilateral (left and right), and percentage between-leg differences, in multidirectional jumping in healthy, recreational male team sport athletes (n = 22).*

The relationships between the screening scores and the VJs, SLJs, and LJs are shown in Table 2. There were only 3 significant correlations, each was positive and moderate, and indicated that a higher screening score related to a better jump performance. The DS correlated with the bilateral vertical (p = 0.047) and SLJ (p = 0.033). The bilateral SLJ also correlated with the left-leg ILL (p = 0.037).

Table 3
Table 3:
Descriptive data (mean ± SD) for measures of linear speed (20-m sprint; 0- to 5-m, 0- to 10-m, and 0- to 20-m intervals); change-of-direction speed (505 and modified T-test with turns toward the left and right), and multidirectional jumping (VJ, SLJ, and LJ) bilaterally and unilaterally (left and right) in healthy, recreational male team sport athletes, as groups stratified by DS score (3 = high; 2 = intermediate; 1 = low).*

From these correlations, the DS, left-leg HS, and right-leg HS were used to stratify subjects into high-, intermediate-, and low-performing groups. The left-leg ILL was not used for between-group comparisons as only 1 subject attained a score of 1 for this screen. When considering the DS (Table 3), there was only 1 significant between-group difference, with the high-performing group having a 13% greater SLJ when compared with the intermediate group (p = 0.041). The 12% difference in the SLJ with the low-performing group did not reach significance (p = 0.067). There were no significant between-group differences in performance tests when the left-leg HS was used for group stratification (Table 4). When the right-leg HS was used for stratification (Table 5), the high-performing group had a significantly greater difference between the modified T-test conditions when compared with the low-performing group (p = 0.021). The intermediate performers also had a significantly greater between-leg difference in LJ performance when compared with the low-performers group (p = 0.014). There were no other significant between-group differences.

Table 4
Table 4:
Descriptive data (mean ± SD) for measures of linear speed (20-m sprint; 0- to 5-m, 0- to 10-m, and 0- to 20-m intervals); change-of-direction speed (505 and modified T-test with turns toward the left and right), and multidirectional jumping (VJ, SLJ, and LJ) bilaterally and unilaterally (left and right) in healthy, recreational male team sport athletes, as groups stratified by left-leg HS score (3 = high; 2 = intermediate; 1 = low).*
Table 5
Table 5:
Descriptive data (mean ± SD) for measures of linear speed (20-m sprint; 0- to 5-m, 0- to 10-m, and 0- to 20-m intervals); change-of-direction speed (505 and modified T-test with turns toward the left and right), and multidirectional jumping (VJ, SLJ, and LJ) bilaterally and unilaterally (left and right) in healthy, recreational male team sport athletes, as groups stratified by right-leg HS score (3 = high; 2 = intermediate; 1 = low).*

Discussion

This study analyzed relationships and predictive capabilities of the lower-body focused FMS screens for the identification of movement deficiencies that could affect multidirectional speed and jumping in male team sport athletes. In support of previous research investigating collegiate golfers (36), and recreationally active individuals (34), this study found minimal relationships between the FMS and athletic performance. Furthermore, even for screens that did relate to certain performance tests relationships (DS and HS), the scoring system generally did not differentiate athletes with higher or lesser ability levels for speed and jumping. As a result, it would be difficult for these screens to specifically identify a deficiency that could be corrected with a view to improving multidirectional movement capabilities. A limitation of this study was the sample size (n = 22), as this resulted in the groups being unequal in size. This may have affected the ability to detect significant between-group differences in multidirectional speed and jumping. Nevertheless, as will be discussed, the findings from this research have important implications for strength and conditioning coaches.

The mean overall FMS score from this study (15.09 ± 2.18) was similar to that of professional American football players (16.9 ± 3.0) (20) and physically active individuals (15.7 ± 1.9) (39), and higher than a different sample of professional American football players (linemen = 11.8 ± 1.8; non-linemen = 13.3 ± 1.9) (19). This suggests that the subjects from this sample produced movement patterns typical of healthy team sport athletes. The results from this study supported previous research (34,36), as the overall FMS score generally did not relate to multidirectional speed and jumping (Tables 1 and 2). There was 1 significant correlation with the difference in modified T-test performance with movement initiation to the left or right. However, contrary to the study hypothesis, the relationship suggested that a higher overall FMS score related to a greater difference between the T-test conditions. Although there may be value in using the overall score as an indicator for injury risk (5,20), there seems to be limited application as it pertains to athletic performance.

The DS, however, indicated certain positive relationships to athletic performance. Although these data do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, a better-performed DS correlated with and predicted a smaller difference between turns from each leg in the 505 (Table 1), and greater bilateral VJ height and SLJ distance (Table 2). A contributing factor to these relationships could be similarities in muscle recruitment. For example, Caterisano et al. (4) found that a deeper squat will increase the activity of the gluteus maximus, and thus it could be assumed subjects who can squat deeper can recruit this muscle more effectively, as well as other hip extensors. The gluteus maximus is also a prime mover for the hip extension required during maximal running (1,42), cutting (33), and jumping (45). However, the strength of the relationships was only moderate (r < 0.50), and the great majority of correlations with speed and jump performance were nonsignificant (Tables 1 and 2). Nonetheless, this exercise was investigated further to determine whether the scoring for this screen could indicate a movement deficiency affecting multidirectional sprinting and jumping.

After the stratification of subjects into high, intermediate, and low performers according to DS score, there was a tendency for the high-performing subjects to perform better in the tests of speed and jumping (Table 5). However, there was only 1 significant between-group difference. The high performers in the DS were significantly better than the intermediate performers in the bilateral SLJ (p = 0.041), while the difference with the low performers approached significance (p = 0.067). When considering this result, it is important to evaluate how a DS could be scored differently in the FMS, and what this would mean for the SLJ. The difference between a score of 3 and 2 was that the DS was performed with a 2 × 6 inch board under the heels for the intermediate performers. When using a 15° wedge (similar to the 2 × 6 inch board) during a DS, healthy males had a reduction in muscle activation of the rectus femoris, tibialis anterior, and gastrocnemius (43). Low performers in the DS tend to make gross movement errors (3), so changes in muscle activity would likely be exacerbated in these subjects. Given the need for correct sequencing of muscle activation during a maximal jump (2), the DS may have some value in identifying muscle weaknesses or coordination limitations that could affect bilateral jumping. However, previous research has established much stronger relationships between bilateral maximal squat strength tests and multidirectional speed test times (r = −0.54 to −0.87) (29,36), and jumping power (r = 0.77–0.94) (44). A loaded, conventional squat strength test may provide more beneficial information for a coach than a body weight DS when considering implications for speed and jumping in healthy, male team sport athletes.

Regarding the HS, a higher score in this screen for each leg correlated with a greater difference between the T-test with movement initiation to the left and right (Table 1). When the right-leg HS was used to group subjects (Table 5), high performers had a greater difference between the T-test conditions when compared with low performers. If there was an appropriate relationship between a functional test such as the HS and multidirectional speed, it could be theorized that a lesser difference in T-test performance should occur for subjects scoring higher in the screen. However, this was not the case in this study, and is somewhat in contrast to Okada et al. (34), who found that a better right-leg HS related to faster T-test times in recreational athletes (r = −0.518, p = 0.005). The modified T-test features dynamic, complex movements, such as linear sprinting, decelerations and stopping, lateral shuffling, and backward running (10,15,38,40). The requirements for movements with multiple direction changes may not relate to the relatively slow actions performed in the FMS. In further contrast to the study hypothesis, intermediate performers of the right-leg HS had a greater between-leg difference in LJ test when compared with low performers. Additionally, there were no other significant between-group differences indicated by the right-leg HS, and none for the left-leg HS (Table 4). In support of Parchmann and McBride (36), the results from this study suggest limited application for using the HS to indicate deficiencies that could affect athletic performance in team sport athletes.

The ILL has been previously related (r = −0.462, p = 0.013) to change-of-direction speed as measured by the conventional T-test (34). However, no relationships were established with multidirectional speed (Table 2), and only 1 with jump performance (bilateral SLJ; Table 3). The subjects from this study were relatively proficient in this screen, with only 1 subject scoring 1 for the left-leg ILL, and 2 scored 1 for the right-leg ILL. Minick et al. (32) has suggested that the ILL has limitations with assessing mid-range performance, which would reduce the ability of this screen to identify any functional limitations that could affect multidirectional speed and power. Rather than using an ILL, a typical lunge exercise may be a better screening tool for strength and conditioning coaches. Indeed, the body weight lunge has been recommended as a screening tool for athletes (21), and does provide an indication of lower-limb force development and relative strength (8). Despite its lower-body focus, the results from this study suggest that the ILL has limited value as an indicator for movement limitations that could affect multidirectional sprinting and jumping.

A unique aspect of this research was to investigate whether performance in unilateral movements, such as the single-leg jump tests, were related to screens that emphasized movements of the lower limbs leg actions. However, as discussed, there were no FMS correlations with the unilateral jump tests (Table 2), and no clear differentiation in unilateral jump performance between subjects who scored higher or lower in the selected screens (Tables 3–5). This is indicative of the major findings from this study that generally highlighted the FMS did not relate to athletic test performance, and also supported the work of Parchmann and McBride (36). It is questionable whether the scoring system within the FMS is sensitive enough to detect specific deficiencies that could influence a healthy, male team sport athlete's ability to maximally sprint, change direction, and perform powerful jumps. The high-performing subjects in the DS did tend to perform better in the speed and jump tests (Table 4), but there was only significant difference for the SLJ, and no clearly identifiable delineations between high and intermediate performers, and intermediate and low performers. The DS may have some value in identifying muscle weaknesses that could affect the ability to change direction from each leg, and bilateral jump performance. However, a typical maximal squat test may be a better option for strength and conditioning coaches to use in the assessment of the functional capabilities of their athletes.

Practical Applications

The results from this study generally supported previous research that established minimal relationships between FMS screening scores and athletic performance. The few significant relationships that were found tended to be relatively weak. The practical applications of these findings are that the FMS, and the lower-body focused screens, have limited capacity to identify specific deficiencies that could affect multidirectional sprinting or jumping in healthy, male team sport athletes. This was particularly true for unilateral jump performance, despite the FMS isolating single-leg actions in certain screens. There may still be value in using the FMS with a focus on injury prevention (although this is still to be confirmed through appropriate research), but from an athletic performance perspective, the FMS appears to have minimal value. The DS may be able to identify certain muscle weaknesses, but the scoring system is not sensitive enough to identify a specific muscle or joint restriction. Rather, gross deficiencies could be identified by the DS. Strength and conditioning coaches, however, may be better served using maximal strength tests (e.g., a 1-repetition maximal squat), or movements such as a typical lunge rather than an ILL, as functional assessments for their healthy athletes. These types of assessments should have greater application to athletic performance, including multidirectional sprinting and jump performance, in healthy team sport athletes.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge our subjects for their contribution to the study. This research project received no external financial assistance. None of the authors have any conflict of interest. The results of this study do not constitute endorsement for or against the FMS by the authors, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, or the editors of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

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Keywords:

deep squat; 505; standing long jump; unilateral jump; team sports

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