Jan 29, 2015
Function In Movement Screening

By Vern Gambetta

How can you call something a functional movement screen when most of the test’s movements are in positions that are at low levels of function for any athletic body? For me, screening while using artificial movements in a sterile environment is of little to no value. Instead, I think it’s important to keep in mind that athletes have three movement constants: the body, the ground, and gravity. In movement assessment, we want to see the effect of gravity on the body and how the body effectively uses the ground to stabilize, produce, and reduce force.

As a coach, I want to know what an athlete can do–where I can start them on a progression on a continuum of function in their training. Perceived deficiencies must be evaluated in the context of the athlete’s training background, development age, and sport. Each athlete has a movement signature, a fingerprint that defines him or her as an individual in regard to his or her movement patterns. To change that is very difficult and of questionable necessity.

We also need to remember when we are screening movement that the body is asymmetrical, therefore, to seek symmetry is unrealistic. Proportionality right to left and front to back is a more realistic and practical goal.

Vern Gambetta-120x180.jpgIf you are intrigued by the thoughts of veteran conditioning coach Vern Gambetta, you will want a copy of his exciting new book, Following the Functional Path: Building and Rebuilding the Athlete.

In my work, I test using a variety of movements that evaluate athletes based on their sport demands and their developmental age. No seven tests will fit every athlete–one size does not fit all.

Also remember that Testing = Training and Training = Testing. Every training session includes fundamental movements that I use for ongoing evaluation against a baseline.

The bottom line is to develop a screen that works for you in your setting. The goal is to elicit actionable information that you can translate into an improved training program.

Vern Gambetta, MA, is President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. The former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox, he has also worked extensively with basketball, soccer, and track and field athletes. He is a frequent contributor to Training & Conditioning. Vern also maintains his own blog.


Finally someone with a national voice formally points out the turd in the punch bowl.

The Functional Movement Screen movement has served a very important purpose; putting money in the pockets of the program designers, media publishers, and the screener “experts”. Beyond that it contributes little.

In 30+ years of coaching and the observation of 10s of thousands of athlete movements I can say that I rarely see the movements tested having a significant role in performance capacity.

Mark M Hoffman Athletic Development Coach

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