The Pros and Cons of Movement Screens

The Pros and Cons of Movement Screens

the Pros and Cons of Movement Screens

If you’re a fitness enthusiast or a coach you have heard the terms movement assessment or movement screen. While we each have our own interpretation of what they mean it is important to understand the origin of these words and the intention behind them.

In this month’s knowledge series James FitzGerald, founder of OPEX Fitness, breaks down the history behind the movement screen and the possible pros and cons of said screens.

The History of the Movement Screens

In the late 90’s the word ‘function’ entered the realm of fitness. As it gained traction and functional fitness was popularized, fitness professionals and coaches began to start analyzing how exactly participants needed to move relative to their function.

Looking to base their screens in science, fitness professionals pulled from the medical model of rehabilitation. This was the starting point for the movement screens that we know today.

The Pros and Cons of Movement Screens

Over time it has become common for coaches to adopt some form of movement screen into their practice. OPEX Fitness has even created our own. (Get an introduction to OPEX Move here.) While we all have our own personal opinions and preferences about movement screens, here are some pros and cons to help you analyze your own.

The Pros

  • They give the coach direction for program design.
  • They help align client ability with program design.
  • They build confidence in the client who perceives the coach as competent.
  • They provide a system, which is something that can be repeated and perfected.
  • A coach can build off a movement screen, evolve their implementation and increase their efficiency.
  • They let the coach monitor the progress of the client.
  • They can be the starting point for building a professional relationship with the client.
  • They can be scaled, taught to other coaches, and used to create consistency in language.

The Cons

  • If someone performs a screen regularly they’ll learn to strategize to “win” the screen.
  • They can create fear around movement, as ultimately they do need to define “good” and “bad” movement.
  • They are not functionally sound, as there is no perfect screen for how someone should move to live long and prosper. 
  • They can’t be performed online highly effectively.
  • They can create dogmatic attitudes and identity politics amongst their practitioners. 
  • They are not broad enough for sport specificity.
  • They can create paralysis by analysis.
  • It takes a long time for a coach to learn and observe points of performance and implement them effectively.

Make it Your Own and Keep Evolving

At the end of this knowledge series, James explains that there is no perfect movement screen. While we each might think ours is the pinnacle, they all have flaws. That’s why James recommends that coaches modify their screen relative to what they are going to do with their client. “If I’m going to give my client a lot of leg presses I should probably have a screen for that,” says James, highlighting an example of a personalized movement screen.

Every coach needs a starting point to develop their own personalized movement screen. If you are looking for some inspiration, we have developed a four-level movement screen that is part of our body, movement, and work assessment. Get a free introduction to our system of client assessment and a checklist to use during your next assessment by downloading this free Coach’s Toolkit. 


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