If you’re like me and thrive on a structured program, nothing is more rewarding than seeing progress. Being able to quantify it is even better. You don’t have to look too far in the athletic development arena to hear the ever so common phrase ‘if you’re not measuring it, how do you monitor/or improve it?’
I’m frequently visited to coaches in the industry to talk shop, and one of the first questions they ask is what movement screening do we use? When I reply none, the look on their faces is priceless. The truth is if I was a graduate and heard someone with my response, I too would be thinking- well what are you doing then?!
Here are 3 reasons why….
1.With coach to athlete ratios far too great in development programs, how do you expect to roll out any particular movement screen with quality and reliability? Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of ratios such as those requirements of the NCAA Division 1 (Table F1 and F2), that can range from as few as 1:3 to 1:14. More often than not such ratios in high school settings are more like 1:20-30 and beyond. With time limitations often subjected to either academic periods, or pre/post school timings, combined with the vast array of both chronological, maturational, or training age variance this is simply not feasible with any certainty.
2. Collecting data for data sake is far too common in the field of strength and conditioning. I’ve done this time and time again, trying to tick the boxes because that’s what we as coaches are expected to do in our domain. Whether it be load monitoring, performance testing, or screenings (including movement), only to review these at the end of the season/program and question our use of them. In many cases if we’re truly honest with ourselves the answer is we haven’t! and I put many hand up, because I’ve learnt this time and time again, when my time could have been better invested in other progressive avenues to continue to build a successful program. With the sheer size of some of the programs, quantity of athletes/students within them, limited time of coaching exposure, combined with the restrictive coach to athlete ratios, personally I feel our time would be of better use elsewhere.
3. Retention rates should be your priority! Whilst I feel this should hold the most amount of weight, I’ve left it until last to further solidify my point in development programs. As a strength and conditioning coach in youth your primary objective should be getting participants in, and wanting to come back! This is what successful programs do. In fact the number 1 reason for youth drop out, in sport is a lack of FUN!. In the instance of movement screens, if a child/adolescent spends the first experience in your gym setting being told or given a rating on what they can’t do… unfortunately I’m sorry to say it, they simply won’t come back. Here is where the program of best fit, and each individuals coaching eye comes into it. Progressions, and regressions are always an option and combine that with the intra-session ability to see individual movement differences is suffice in my mind to ensure a win:win. With this in mind, my question is if we’re looking in our athletes/students best interest by implementing a movement screen are we doing them justice or trying to appease our own curiosity.
With all 3 of the above points raised it should be pointed out it would be naïve of me to think there is no place for movement screens. I’m actually a big fan of them. There are endless private settings and coaches (too many to name here) who implement them in one on one, or small group based settings (including me), and do a great job of it! Everything is circumstantial in the field of athletic development and it is only through experience in your environment, can you make judgement on what to include or leave out of your program for it to be successful.