One of the most frustrating things an athlete can experience is injury. Not being able to train or compete with their teammates can be devastating The physical and psychological impact hurts both the injured athlete and the team. There’s also strong evidence to show that teams are less successful when they experience more injuries. Therefore, a key priority of performance coaches is minimizing injury risk. A key aspect of minimizing risk is first assessing which athletes are at risk and specifically what type of injury they are at risk of. A popular method of evaluating injury risk in athletes is by implementing a movement screen. One of the more popular movement screens used among coaches is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This screen involves a series of 7 movements in which the coach will grade their athletes with a score from 0-3, with 3 being optimal. Proponents of the FMS believe that athletes with a combined score of ≤14 are at a greater risk of injury.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested the predictive ability of the FMS for accurately identifying athletes who would eventually experience injury over the course of a season. A total of 89 semi-profession male soccer players across 5 different clubs from an Irish Soccer league were tested in the FMS during the preseason. Non-contact injuries during the subsequent season were monitored and documented by the researchers. The main aim was to determine if athletes who scored 14 or less on the FMS during the preseason were more likely to get hurt than players who scores greater than 14 after controlling for match-exposure levels.
A total of 66 non-contact injuries were recorded throughout the competitive season. There was no significant difference in FMS scores between players that experienced non-contact injury versus players that did not experience non-contact injury. In addition, there was no significant difference in exposure-normalized incidence of non-contact injury between athletes who scored above or below 14 on the FMS. The authors conclude that scoring a 14 or below on the FMS does not appear to significantly relate to non-contact injury occurrence in male soccer players. They recommend that previous injury in addition to training and match exposure must also be considered.
Smith, P. D., & Hanlon, M. (2016). Assessing the effectiveness of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS (TM)) in predicting non-contact injury rates in soccer players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Ahead of print.