Why Use FMS?

I have been outspoken in my criticism of the FMS over the years; I first evaluated the FMS back when it started. My initial evaluation and opinion based on my experience and study has not changed as it has grown in popularity. It is a borderline waste of time that generates random numbers without transfer to real life situations. Stop and think, stop sheep walking and doing something because everyone else is doing it. One argument recently presented to me was that it is used at NFL Combine. And the NFL also still uses isokinetic testing. If we use the NFL as our example of a thought leader we are in bad shape (see their enlightened response to the concussion crisis).

I have heard the rationale for the selection of the FMS movements; as far as I am concerned they do not hold water. If you force the body to conform to unusual, strange, often uncomfortable positions – Is that a valid assessment? Stop and think! In assessment I need to reconcile the shapes they have to make in their sports with the shapes they can make and then determine an appropriate training program for that athlete. I want to see how the athlete can make connections and transitions not get in positions that are mentally convenient and easy to measure. By the way because it is easy to measure does not imply it is meaningful.

I am interested in injury prevention not injury prediction. The goal is to test/assess/screen the athlete to determine what they can do, not what they cannot do. The assessment must give me actionable information, a “Trainability” assessment that offers guidance as to their ability to train at an appropriate level to their physical competency. In this approach there is no need for special corrective exercises, it is all transparently incorporated into the athletes training program. To do this requires some thought; it is not a neat package that you learn in certification seminar. It demands an understanding of movement. Much of what is necessary has been around for years in the physical therapy world and in physical education. It also comes back to the fundamental concept that Testing =Training and Training=Testing, each training session is an ongoing evaluation and constant adjustments must be made. In summary I urge you to stop and think critically in regard to using the FMS, you can do better.

2 replies
  1. Paz
    Paz says:

    O dear, and with the greatest respect Mr Gambetta, you’ve missed the point. If the positions are uncomfortable and feel unnatural it’s only because that’s how far you’ve moved away from your primary patterns. Roll, crawl, stand and step. It’s all pretty straightforward really. Basic patterns underpin complex ones. As dancers we have been training this way, well, forever. Take Skinner release for example. We embrace the floor as a starting point to basic ability and build toward more complexity.

    But you know all this already. Your one of the originals. So why so recalcitrant regarding FMS? We know it’s only a part of the story, we’re not stupid. But it’s a good start, IF you know what your looking for.

    If you can truly ‘read’ movement, then any movement will tell you the story and help you ‘release’ a bodies efficiency. Watching someone rising from a chair and crossing the room will often tell me a great deal of info on a client, before they have even started to speak.

    With very best regards.



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  1. […] screens have also been a controversial topic, with none other than our own Vern Gambetta questioning FMS, a popular approach. On the podcast Ballard states that the problem with some movement screens is […]

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