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Benefits of Using the Functional Movement Screen with Youth Athletes

Sarah Lang-Rodean BS, CSCS
ECHN Strength & Conditioning Coach

Every year more than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 will require medical treatment for sports-related injuries, the majority of which are avoidable through proper intervention and training¹. Determining an athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, and muscular imbalances is imperative for proper program development, progression, and effective athletic development. But how does an exercise professional determine such things, especially in a large population of athletes? The answer is The Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

The FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness. The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and to identify those exercises that will be most effective to restore proper movement and build strength in each individual².

The FMS can be used at any skill level, from youth to professional athletes. The reason it is so popular among youth training is because movement issues can be cleared up relatively quickly compared to adult athletes. This is because youth athletes haven’t been dealing with dysfunction, compensation, and incorrect movements for years and years so correction and mastery is much easier.

Here is what takes place from start to finish in developing each program³:
  1. Screen each athlete and get medical history  
  2. Analyze screen – determine limitations and base program around correcting weaknesses and dysfunction. 
  3. Apply red lights – eliminate all exercises that can potentially cause harm.
  4. Apply correctives – determine appropriate corrective strategy to improve overall movement and build a solid foundation to work from. 
  5. Strength/Power/Endurance – after identifying the weakness, exploit it. Remember, each athlete is going to be different so base your program around what they need to address most.
  6. Rest/Recovery – youth athletes are overworked and lead stressful lives, focus on rest and recovery is imperative.
With each screen taking 10 minutes or less, the FMS simplifies the concept of movement and its impact on the body. Its streamlined system has benefits for everyone involved and is an essential part of any performance testing and exercise program.

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