Breaking Down The Functional Movement Screen: Hurdle Step

Two weeks ago, we introduced a movement screen that we use with the Galaxy players, called the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).  As we mentioned, 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.

READ: Fitness Screening to improve performance and prevent injuries

Last week we looked at some of the common errors found via the Deep Squat screen and exercises we incorporate in the gym and on the field that help with our squatting and deceleration mechanics. 

READ: Breaking Down the FMS: Deep Squat

This week we are going to continue to look one of the Functional Movement Screens - the Hurdle Step - and highlight a common error, and then look at the different exercises we incorporate into the players' programs in the gym and on the pitch to address any imbalances, dysfunctions and asymmetries.


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Error #1: Knee/Leg rotation


The biggest issue that we find when screening the Galaxy players with their Hurdle Step is the inability to bring the leg straight over the bar. (pictured above) 

A lot of soccer players have very tight hips and TFL’s and lack core stability, so they end up rotating their legs out in order to clear the rope during the screen. (pictured at left)


In the Gym

Exercise #1: Cable Single Leg Hip Flexion

How to Perform the Exercise: Stand on one leg with a resisted cable or Theraband around your other ankle.  Focus on keeping your balance on the standing leg and bring your other leg up in front so that your hip and knee are at 90 degrees and shin of the raised leg is parallel to your torso.  Do two sets of 10-15 reps on each leg.

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Exercise #2: Pillar hip flexion

How to Perform the Exercise: Place your elbows on a bench and form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.  Keeping the straight line, slowly slide one leg up towards your chest in a marching-like motion without losing your posture and without your leg falling out to the side.  Alternate each leg for 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

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Exercise #3: TRX March

How to Perform the Exercise: Lean your body slightly forward with arms out in front.  Maintaining this posture, lift one leg up and hold at 90 degress.  Alternate legs for two sets of 10 reps.  If you don’t have a TRX this can be done on a wall with the same forward lean.

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On the Field

The Hurdle Step is a good indicator of running mechanics.  If a player has poor hip mobility or tight hips flexors and TFL’S he is not going to be able run as efficiently as possible and will not be as forceful or powerful when running.  If the hip flexors are tight when running, the player will end up pulling his legs through instead of being able to drive or push through the ground when he runs.  When on the pitch, try these two exercises to improve running mechanics.

Exercise #1: Single Leg Cycle

How to Perform the Exercise: Start on one leg with the other slightly behind the ankle of the standing leg.  On a coach’s cue, maintain a nice, tall posture and quickly drive the up leg towards your glutes, and then cycle your leg forward so that your hip and knee are at 90 degrees.  Hold at the top for three seconds and repeat for 3 sets of 6-8 reps on each leg.

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Exercise #2: Resisted Load and Lift

How to Perform the Exercise: Start on one leg in a slight load position with the other leg extended behind you.  On the coach’s cue, push through the standing leg to a tall position driving the other leg to 90 degrees.  Do two sets of 8-10 reps on each leg.

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These are just a few examples of the issues we find when looking at these screens as well as some simple exercises we use in the gym and during our warm up on the pitch to help try and correct them.  Ultimately if we want to be healthy, injury free, and productive on the pitch, we need to take care of our bodies and correct some of these bad habits in order to be able to run, jump, and cut when we are playing. 

Next week we'll look at some of the common errors and corrective exercises we can use related to the Inline Lunge screen.

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