Assessing athletes for musculoskeletal imbalances is important when looking to spot yellow and red flags in terms of muscle strength-balance, and possible in predicting future likelihood of injuries. In this regard, movement screening is everywhere, particularly in team environments when large numbers of athletes need to be tested within the time-constraints of organised (professional sport). The Functional Movement Screen has become a standardised method of assessing movement in professional sport environments.

FMS problems

The problem with the FMS is that it does not specify the difference between biomechanical & neural inputs into movement control. As a result, exercise prescription following FMS may be non-specific. In addition, given that the FMS is performed at low velocity, it is a poor indicator of performance & motor control at high velocities, which is precisely what sports performance is about.

A recent study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research examined the relationship between functional movement screening or 1RM squat to athletic performance. 25 collegiate athletes were tested for FMS and 1RM squat, while a series of fitness tests were performed subsequently: 10m sprint, 20m sprint, vertical jump and agility T-test.

The results showed that the FMS had no relationship to 10m sprint time (r = -0.136) or 20m sprint time (r = -.107), did not correlate to leg power in the vertical jump (r = 0.249) nor did it relate to agility (r = -0.146). In contrast, 1RM squat was significantly correlated to 10m sprint time (r = -0.812) and 20m sprint time (r = -0.872), and also significantly correlated to vertical jump (r = 0.869) and agility t-test (r = -0.758). The results of this neat experiment are neat: 1RM squat was a better indicator of 10m and 20m sprint time and vertical jump, while a functional movement screen bore no relation to any athletic performance parameter. 


Final Comment

  • The FMS might be a practical, and useful starting point in assessing an athletes’ fundamental movement quality at low velocity of movement. However, it is only one tool that should support a further range of assessments
  • FMS is worse than squat at predicting sports performance (10m, 20m speed). Squat is not very specific to those activities
  • FMS is not likely to predict sports performance from a bio-motor point of view