A very thought provoking post by Anthony Mychal created a firestorm in social media. Based on the web metrics, it seems the a lot of effort was put into trying to convince one person that he is wrong. Quickly a lot of discussion was going on by different professions on the effectiveness of risk appraisal using the FMS and other systems. I am in favor of assessments before starting training, but I don’t belong to absolute ideas that one way is the only way. During this week I will ask the questions nobody wants to hear except the athletes and coaches trying to improve performance, not just be popular so they can be featured on speaking tours and podcasts.
The most obvious question is what is the best way to evaluate player readiness and risk with regards to performance function? A lot of options exist, such as the FMS, PCA, Assess and Correct, and my personal favorite Grant’s Assessment. All of them have their pros and cons, but when getting down to it, you must evaluate testing based on the information it provides. I am not consumer reports, but have evaluated all of the four systems as well as other popular methods. When I visit teams I tend to ask what assessment they do and what they do with the information. Do they improve scores year to year? Do they use corrective exercise, PT, or general training to clear up problems. How do they analyze the data.
With Moneyball and Analytics now entering the sports medicine and performance arena, the most favorable testing options are likely to be the PCA and Grant’s Assessment from a scoring and actionable perspective. The FMS and Assess and Correct are far different animals, as the Assess and Correct product drills down to joint ranges and identifies specific restrictions or weaknesses, but doesn’t link to etiology as well as Grant’s assessment. I think Assess and Correct is a great balance between problems and solutions, and the FMS simply is very scant on providing much information they way it is scored. To summarize an end range leg exercise as a 2 or 3 instead of joint angle seems to be a poor decision on data collection. In fact I would argue that it is borderline unprofessional to write down anything besides the best and most precise and reliable data. The PCA has different tests, but scores 1-5 and uses a spider chart to get an idea of risk and improvement. I like this but I personally use degrees instead of integers to summarize more complex interactions such as the overhead squat test. Both the FMS and PCA uses the overhead squat test, a fine option to use when exploring unknown people or situations, but scoring should be based on details, not criteria as that information summary needs to put into proper data collection options. An overhead squat can be broken down using Dartfish and get actual depth. torso lean, and bar relationships between the COM at the feet. In addition, symmetry between right and left can be scored as well using angles. Angles are wonderful and pure. That simple test can get you 50 data points the that describe the evaluation motion very well.
One thing I like about Gran’t assessment is the relationship between throwing, jumping, and running. For example Gait analysis and foot function is very important as the foot is the first contact to the ground but function stops with ankle mobility. The cover of the book Movement shows a barefoot runner, and when I read I was disappointed that Gray Cook simply refers to Todd Wright and Gary Gray as his foot experts, instead of a world class podiatrist that understands pathomechanics. In Cook’s defense, in a podcast he shares the need for a running coach to teach how to run better, instead of just holding a watch or looking at heart rate. I am just confused why so many of the seven tests are rather stationary and have no loading, such as the classic drop landing test to see if athletes could handle the forces of gravity. The NASM Kinetic Chain Evaluation includes a single leg squat (as well as others), something I felt would be a natural option to use. I think we need to see less mobility only options and start looking at forces and muscle function. It seems that flexibility and strength have been erroneously replaced by mobility and stability. They are not mutually exclusive.
So one question is what to use? Use what you feel will give you good information. I don’t care if one system is at war with the other, or what will look more favorable to be certified in as I am not a college strength coach looking to climb the ladder. All the above systems provide good information, and some provide more useful options. As technology becomes more and more available. I see some serious changes to the ways teams evaluate risk on a daily basis. While Dan John may say if it’s worth doing do it daily, nobody does the screen of choice daily in the professional setting? If so wouldn’t we see a drastic decrease of injuries? My belief is that screening is a constant practice that must be focused on the other 360 days of the year. Since one is likely only to screen 2-3 times a year maximally, we need to screen more with training and see how those tests or assessments relate to training and competition. Technology will be the extension of the coaches eye, and just looking at training montages on youtube it seems that screening stops when training begins.