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Is Your Child Ready to Play Sports? Part 5: Player Assessment and Evaluation

In Part 4, we provided an explanation of the forces involved in jumping and landing and collisions.

Be Better At Evaluating Players

Michael Yessis, PhD, a world renowned sports science expert, states,

"Coaches deal with players on a regular basis and should know them better than anyone else. They should know all their strong and weak points and as a result, should be able to determine their success or failure on the field. Right?"

"So why are coaches not better in evaluating present and future players? The problem appears to be in determining strong and weak points. The definition of strong and weak points is critical here. For example, coaches usually define strong and weak points in regard to execution of what they are required to do in execution of a particular strategy or tactic."

"The ability to run and cut well in order to execute a particular pattern is considered a very basic skill that must be learned; it is not innate. Without this ability you will never attain greatness in executing the coach’s tactics or strategy. When you are able to run well you will be able to more easily and quickly learn any pattern of running that is needed. If your running and cutting mechanics are poor, you will always have difficulty in executing a particular pattern or pass strategy."

"The bottom line is that most coaches do not evaluate basic player skills." (Source)

Functional Movement

What is "functional movement?" This term is used so frequently by the fitness and sports training community. Functional movement or training means that the training you perform should be directed at two areas: what YOUR child's body needs and what YOUR child's sport or goals require. We know from studies on athletes what the movement requirements are for any sport. By using GPS technology, we even know the requirements by position.

"Regular participation in organized youth sports does not ensure that youth are adequately exposed to fitness regimens and activities that sufficiently improve health and sports-specific fitness to minimize risk of injury and promote lifelong health and fitness. Accordingly, participation in physical activity should not begin with competitive sport, but should evolve out of regular participation in a well-rounded preparatory conditioning program." (Source)

Proper assessment of a child is necessary to determine that child's physical needs. Are they weak/strong, flexible/inflexible, have good balance or poor balance? The Functional Movement Screen is a great foundational assessment. In addition to that, what other areas must be assessed? And once your child is assessed, how do you combine their individual needs with the sport requirements?

Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

The FMS is a simple test that can be used to help determine physical preparedness. Listen to: Should You Screen Your Kids?

Try the following home tests and video your child. Be honest with yourself – how do they look?

  • Run – forward and back

  • Skip – forward and back

  • Jump/Land

  • Lateral Shuffle

  • Thrown

  • Kick

  • Catch

  • Roll (Summersault)

  • Roll front to back and back to front

  • Squat

Joint Hypermobility

Have you ever heard of Beighton's score for joint hypermobility? The picture above shows the 5 tests that make up the score. Has your pediatrician ever performed this on your child? Unfortunately, probably not. If your child is hypermobile, does your child's coach or trainer know what to do? Unfortunately, probably not. This is essential to know so the proper exercises are given to strengthen the muscles around each joint. Stability and motor control must be developed before explosive sport movement is performed. So if your child is running, jumping, landing, changing direction and has joint hypermobility, they are at increased risk of injury. With the proper training, this hypermobility can be controlled and maybe even developed into an advantage!

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