Omar Gonzalez & the Functional Movement Screen

Fitness screening to improve performance and prevent injuries

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LA Galaxy

Something unusual happened just the other day. I actually had a player approach me about getting retested on his movement patterns in order to improve his workout program and to help him continue to stay injury free. While this might not seem like a big deal, it is something that took me completely by surprise and made me appreciate the dedication that our players have to getting better and being true professionals. Ideally, I try to retest the guys a couple of times a year to assess where they are at from a movement quality standpoint, so I was extremely impressed that Omar Gonzalez decided to take a proactive approach and seek out additional help to make sure that he was progressing physically and doing everything needed to improve his performance and aid in his injury prevention.

Read: All Eyes on Omar Gonzalez

The test that Omar wanted to do is called the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS is a series of seven different exercises that allow us to analyze how the body is moving and consequently adjust the players’ lifting and injury prevention programs based off of how well they perform the exercises and if they are feeling pain with any of them. In terms of analyzing the performance of the exercises, we are looking for asymmetries or imbalances between the right and left sides, mobility and stability.

Below we will break down each exercise in the Functional Movement Screen and show how the performance of the exercise impacts our lifting programs as well as how each screen applies to a specific element while on the pitch.

Deep Squat
The Deep Squat addresses our squatting mechanics and we use it to look at mobility of the hips, knees and ankles. Stand with a dowel overhead and feet shoulder width apart. Squat down trying to keep the dowel overhead, a flat back, and knees from falling in.

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Hurdle Step
The Hurdle Step allows us to assess each leg individually and allows us to see mobility as well as stability of the hips, knees and ankles. Use this exercise to assess the differences between your right and left legs. Start with one leg on the ground and step over the bar with your other leg.

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In the gym: We use this exercise to determine the starting position for front and back squats for our players and what coaching cues we need to give them to perform the exercise better. For Omar, we add a miniband at his knees to cue him to keep his knees over his feet when performing his front squat.

On the pitch: The deep squat addresses players' ability to sit into their hips, which is very important when trying to slow their bodies down on the field and change direction.

READ: BREAKING DOWN THE DEEP SQUAT

In the gym: This exercise helps us with all the single leg exercises we have the players perform in the gym, like single leg squats and step ups. With Omar, we have him do one additional set of single leg squats on his right leg because it is harder for him to balance and stabilize on that leg.

On the pitch: This exercise helps us assess how the players run on the field. By stepping over the bar during the test it mimics a running stride so we can start to look at the mechanics of the player without him running at full speed.

READ: BREAKING DOWN THE HURDLE STEP

Inline Lunge
The Inline Lunge allows us to assess each leg individually and see mobility and stability specifically at the knees and ankles. This exercise in the Functional Movement Screen will also look at balance. Start with one leg in front of the other and drop your back knee to the ground while sitting into your front hip.

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Shoulder Mobility
The Shoulder Mobility screen assesses the range of motion of the shoulders. Make a fist with your hands and try and get your hands to touch between your shoulder blades.


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In the gym: This exercise applies to split squats and lunges in the gym. Omar likes to lead with his knees so we try to get him to sit into his front hip a little more and not put too much pressure on his knees.

On the pitch: On the pitch, this exercise helps us start to see what posture and angles the players like to make, which we can then address when they are sprinting.

READ: BREAKING DOWN INLINE LUNGE

In the gym: This exercise helps determine which other upper body exercises we do with the players in the gym. With Omar, we have him perform several shoulder and scapula exercises to improve his mobility and stability such as Floor Y’s, T’s, and W’s and ½ kneeling Overhead Press.

On the pitch: Players' arms play an active role in all the movements they perform on the pitch. Running, jumping, and holding off a defender all require upper body and shoulder strength and stability. This exercise is particularly important for the keepers who need to have freedom to move their arms in all directions, especially overhead when reaching for a ball.

Active Straight Leg Raise
The Straight Leg Raise assesses our hamstring and calf flexibility. Lie on your back, keeping both legs straight, bring one leg as close to vertical as you can.

Trunk Stability Push-Up
The Trunk Stability Push-up looks at our core stability from our shoulders down to our glutes. Start in push-up position on the ground and in one motion press yourself up.


Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

In the gym: Hamstring flexibility impacts many exercises a player performs in the gym. For example, the single leg RDL which requires him to balance on one leg and bring the rest of his body parallel to the ground. Omar has very good hamstring flexibility but we make sure he stays on top of it by using the stretch rope after each practice for 3 sets of 30 second holds on each leg.

On the pitch: Soccer is a game that involves a lot of running and hamstrings play a big role in how efficiently the players are able to do that. If a player has tight hamstrings, that can lead to pain in the lower back so it is important to maintain proper hamstring flexibility to support 90 minutes of running on the pitch.

In the gym: We use the results of this screen to further evaluate our ability to activate and control our core muscles, thus helping determine what core exercises we need the players to do to strengthen their trunks. With Omar we have him do front and side pillars to strengthen his core muscles by holding these positions for 2 sets of 30-45 seconds.

On the pitch: Core strength is very important for everything the players do on the pitch. If their cores are not strong they are going to lose energy and not be as powerful. This screen will determine that a player has enough strength and stability in his core to run, jump, cut, kick and hold off a defender.

Rotational Stability
The Rotational Stability screen looks at how we stabilize our bodies when moving our arms or legs and how we transfer forces from our lower body to our upper body. Start on all fours and extend the opposite arm and leg out.

 


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In the gym: This screen addresses how the players use their cores to rotate or stabilize against rotation. Rotational Stability impacts exercises such as cable chops and lifts, rotational rows, and medicine ball throws. With Omar, we have him do TRX marches to work on controlling his pelvic rotation and strengthen his core.

On the pitch: This screen helps us when looking at multi-directional movements on the field especially how we plant, cut and change direction.

 

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