Open FMS and Best Practices

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Like training for anything else- getting stronger, improving power, improving cardiovascular fitness- you have a way to measure these qualities and it is accepted that improving on your objective tests is a step in the right direction. The FMS (or whichever screening process you choose to use) should be no different.

– Patrick Ward

The FMS interview created a lot of questions and requests for best practices with screening, with some perhaps undertone backlash with many coaches feeling uncomfortable about the white elephant in the room with data analytics. Talk of algorithms, cracking codes, and fuzzy math was blowing up twitter and social media over the last few weeks. With the Serfontein formulas creating hunger for more actionable information, the first question was how can we make the process faster, easier, and simpler without loosing information.

The FMS, PCA, KCE, and other evaluation systems are used in high level sport now and coaches and therapists want ways to get more information that is useful. Data is the new buzzword and many clubs are claiming they are doing wizardry with the magic numbers. I decided to post something in a response to Patrick Ward’s discussion of the movement reserve concept that is similar to buffer zones.

Patrick and some other blog posts talked about three key words-Measuring, objective, and choice. How does the FMS fits within that? Most likely because Charlie Weingroff and Patrick are FMS users and had the honesty and openness to allow for choice of what screens to use. Charlie writes:

Because in the end, it is far less restrictive than it appears, and whatever tools you have, however you train people all fit perfectly under this system. And you can use your own 7 moves if you want to.

This openness to allow for flexibility in the screening does create some disruptive innovation, as the strength of the FMS was the uniformity of criteria and language. So the solution is to catalog tests and create objective measurements not summarizing things with our eyeballs by numbers of 1-3. While I like 0 triggering a response because of pain, we need to define how bad the pain is as I can do a deep squat with a little discomfort and get a 2. I get a two because of various aspects of angles and joint orientation. Many great concepts but not ideal methods for analysis. Here are some basic best practices for any screening system that is not orthopedic (hands on). I believe that once you do manual testing things can get iffy and here are some ways to make any screening system more objective with real measurements.

Video the Evaluation- A short clip or photo is sufficient to get the job done here. If you can use multiple cameras, but if you can film multiple views so you get head on and side view. Many other views such as above and behind can be done quickly with an iPhone or other smartphone. What’s important is that time is precious and all you need to do is get the screen captured and analyze later. The screening is not triage so no rush is needed, just record and upload to dropbox or athlete management systems. This way you can share with others and have a record system for later. Screening is very data intensive visually and sharing to coaches and athletes helps without even seeing scores. The analysis is for us but the clarity of before and after is great for those without education. You don’t need to share a 5 on the PCA on a box score, a video on smart phone or tablet is enough.

Measure Key Potential Injury areas- (KPI for therapy) with angles and length. I am amazed that basic height and weight is barely getting done, not to mention length of femurs or torsos. You don’t need to measure every bone int he body, but many simple things such as shoe size and pant measurements (provided it’s worn properly) can illustrate a lot quickly and easily. The NFL measures hand size yet when we screen we need more information. The FMS can’t do everything, and the screen adds more information provided it receives more information first. To clear up what is going on get basic body measurements. To properly label and score. think centimeters and degrees based on clear landmarks. Unfiltered data is the most important part of analysis.

Visualize the Data- Use a radar plot and table for scoring. Words and explanations don’t do justice to what we are doing. Using dates, specific data, and appropriate graphical design, faster and smarter decision making can be done. Most charts and graphs simply look like lab outputs from the 1980s and often use the wrong methodology. When I see demos of Business Intelligence software, the best ones are simple and boring, because ornamentation is unnecessary for those that understand the data.

If you are interested in learning more about data visualization I suggest some of the books from Stephen Few and Edward Tufte.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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