Wanted: Extraordinary Attributes
I am blessed to work with professionals of the highest caliber in the world in rehabilitation and performance. This is most evident to me in our Sports Physical Therapy Residency team. What sets these sports residents apart? After obtaining a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, these PTs apply for a rigorous, 15 month sports physical therapy training program that requires 50-60 hours each week. Less than 10% of all doctoral students apply for a any type of residency program, and less than 1% of all PTs pursue a residency. Among the applicants to our program, only three are accepted. To say that I get to work with the best of the best of the best is an understatement. It strikes me, though, that while all of the graduates are remarkable, some stand out as extraordinary in their brilliance and success.
Over the past 10 years, I have worked diligently to identify the traits that separate the brilliantly successful from the rest. Finally, this year with the help of several books and countless discussions with our team, we were able to identify and articulate those traits. There were three essential books which aided us in expressing the expectations representative of our residency culture: Mindset, The Ideal Team Player, and Grit.
These are the characteristics of our sports residency team members:
Our residency program expects and seeks to nurture individuals who are positive, humble, hungry, people-smart, and have grit, all with a growth mindset.
One of our Residency faculty recently posted on the topic of a “growth mindset.” Reading it will give you a flavor of how deeply these values are entrenched in our program.
If your team members don’t know your vision (your why), your efforts are much less likely to succeed. Also of importance is that they know how team members are to accomplish the vision. The tactical steps about “how” things are supposed to get done come to mind for most. But, I care most about our team being aligned with our vision and possessing the character traits to carry out that vision. In my experience, this helps the end product take care of itself with the perk of eliminating micromanaging. The vision is simply accomplished by having specific goals in conjunction with continual communication and accountability.
Many people have experienced working alongside a team member who is not displaying the desired character traits. In The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni describes the requisite traits as virtues and offers solutions when they are not exhibited. If you cannot successfully “rehabilitate” a team member, liberate them from their current position. In this case, kindness is essential. And in this case, being kind means relieving the team member from their current position. When an individual is held back by your culture, you are doing them a disservice by allowing them to persist in a culture that does not match them. Let me be more clear, I have seen numerous teams that were unable to successfully implement a systematic approach to injury prevention because of one person. One person can also cause many outstanding people to leave an organization. Most of the time, this person is merely “tolerated” for who they are. In order for a team to be successful, this cannot occur.
To ensure that you are assembling the best possible team, begin by articulating what characteristics are most desirable for your team. If one of my consulting clients has questions about getting change within your organization, I first ask:
- What is your vision (your why)?
- If I were to ask your staff (and sometimes I do) what the vision is, would they know?
- What are the characteristics of your team and your team players?
Those questions have to be answered before we get into the “what” of implementing an injury prevention system. In future posts, I will be discussing the nuts and bolts of systematic injury prevention, but I can’t emphasize enough that the greatest need for most organizations is not the specifics of the system, but the foundational vision and culture to execute the details.
Share what you think the characteristics of an ideal team player are below.
24 Feb 2017
Why I think the Cubs won the World Series
In a word, culture. From any vantage point, they exude a culture with a common vision, an emphasis on continuous improvement with attention to detail, respect on all levels, and fun. I have frequently seen teams win national championships within a couple years of implementing the Functional Movement System. Why is that? Am I biased and naive enough to think that teams who have players who perform better on the overhead deep squat are destined for a title victory? By no means! I think it is the result of being purposeful in building a culture that repeatedly does the simple, little things well. This type of success has roots in embracing a culture of communication and accountability. How does this start?
In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth spends a day with the Seattle Seahawks to try to understand their culture after back to back Super Bowl appearances. The first thing she notes is Head Coach Pete Carroll’s emphasis on “Starting with Why.” (See my previous post on creating your Why.)
“Once you have done the work to create that clear vision, it is the discipline and effort to maintain that vision that can make it all come true.” Pete Carroll.
An article on Seahawks.com illuminates the importance of both the culture and a compelling vision (why statement) for your screening efforts. Take a look at how they describe implementing the Functional Movement System.
“The reasons the Seahawks are incorporating these tests to launch their offseason program starts at the top with general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
This is a vision that John and Pete have for this organization,” said Ramsden, who was the Seahawks’ head trainer for eight years and an associate trainer for five years before stepping into his new role. “They’ve put me into a position to try to bring it to life.”
But once that is developed, how do you create the culture you want that accomplishes the vision?
1. Talk about your vision — constantly.
Every team member should be able to articulate the vision. Decisions are made in accord with the vision. Motivation is drawn from the vision. Team members are held accountable to the vision. This mission must be communicated daily. Every question is an opportunity to respond in terms that underscore and propel you toward the mission.
2. The devil is in the details.
“It is not one thing, it is a million things. It’s a million details.
It is countless small things, each is doable.” Pete Carroll
Accountability is key. There is truth in the adage, “What gets measured, gets done.” Everyone wants to know what winning looks like in their particular job. In the realm of injury prevention and performance enhancement, baseline screening and re-testing is key. The reports that are shared from re-testing foster communication – communication about progress toward the vision. This helps continue the culture change and is a catalyst for buy in.
3. Communicate to foster buy in.
Accountability is important, but without a supportive culture it can lead to individualism as well as the temptation to “cook the books”. If I am going to be held accountable for improving someone’s movement screen score, I might be tempted to fudge that score in order to look better. This is where vulnerability and mutual support are crucial. Everyone “has each other’s back” has to be the attitude. An emphasis must be made on helping one another identify and removing resistance to implementation along the way. A ‘no blame’ policy assists in navigating through hurdles. When communication or accountability breaks down for any portion of the organization, even if a single person fails to act in the direction of the vision, it could thwart the efforts of the whole group.
So why do teams tend to win after implementing the Functional Movement System? I believe it is the result of their commitment to communication and accountability, and a willingness to start with the little things to pursue a common vision. This communication, accountability, and adherence to the vision permeates the culture and spills over into every area. It makes sense that teams that have created a culture embodying these values would be inclined to adopt a comprehensive system for injury prevention. In my next post, we will continue to talk about developing your culture with your team members.
Post below about how have you seen doing the little things right over and over again can lead to outrageous success in large goals?
Discovering Your Why
In the previous post, I discussed the characteristics of successful teams utilizing systematic injury prevention. A team transformed their entire organization’s injury prevention system in one pre-season! A key factor was that they started with why.
Why start with why? Because the success of your mission depends on it. If you don’t convey the foundational why, the how and what become much more difficult to accomplish. When people are exposed to something new, resistance and defensiveness are common reactions. If you can connect the emotional part of their brain with a compelling why, it becomes a bridge for collaboration.
The number one question I get is, “How do I get buy in from (coaches, players, clinic managers, parents, etc.)?” People hit the barriers regarding time, resources, and personality and can’t seem to overcome them. This can usually be traced back to not communicating a compelling why statement. A very clear why statement is essential to lead your team through the dark days of no one buying in. A crystal clear ‘why’ can lead your team to a certain victory by communicating in a way that prompts behavior change.
Shared beliefs and an understanding of the greater purpose, enables an organization to get behind the steps required to accomplish the mission. Why do you or your organization care about injury prevention? Do you believe that your competitive advantage comes from keeping players on the field in the first place? Is this where your physical performance efforts are rooted? The goal is for stakeholders at all levels of an organization to be able to able to answer this question consistently: “Why are we doing this?”
Here is an example of great “why” answer:
“We believe that we can affect the durability of our players by systematic screening, testing, and intervention. Our competitive advantage as a team comes from creating durable players. Last year, we had too many injuries that kept key players from performing their best. We are doing this so players can stay on the field with a foundation that is ripe for enhancing performance.”
If you haven’t read Start with Why, block out 18 minutes on your calendar this week to view Simon Sinek’s TED Talk . I find it beneficial to watch this video regularly to ensure that my communication starts with why and then addresses the how and the what. The heart of the matter, and golden key to unlocking doors through communication, is in the why.
While developing a why statement might seem to be a cheesey, pointless exercise that a consultant on team building makes you do, it is crucial to communicating effectively!
How to formulate your Why
Define your beliefs. Dream big and make it meaningful. “To prevent injuries” will inspire no one. Yet, I hear it all the time! “To prevent injuries” is a what statement. What are your beliefs about human movement and the science of injury prevention? Ultimately, why do you want to prevent injuries? To win the championship? To reduce costs? To keep the factory worker gainfully employed so she can take care of her family? To help children embrace a lifestyle that includes physical activity? Here are some steps to developing your why:
1) Admit that injury prevention is just a means to an end. Injury prevention is a step along the way to a bigger destination.
2) Identify your why – What do you believe?
Begin your why statement with I believe….
I wrote this when I started this blog a few years ago:
I believe we need a musculoskeletal disease prevention revolution.
I believe that we can identify those at risk for preventable injury before it happens.
I believe that we can keep people from being re-injured after their initial injury.
I believe we can KNOW when someone is ready to go back to their activity.
I believe that the musculoskeletal health of every person should be tested as part of an annual exam and prior to initiating exercise. Everyone should know their musculoskeletal “number” — just like they know their blood pressure.
I believe we can, no NEED, to work together across professions to do this. It is going to take a village!
Notice, the purpose of this blog was not “to reduce injury rates.” Again, what do you believe? Mull over your beliefs as you develop your why statement.
3) Consider and define why it matters to you and your team
What will happen if you achieve it? (both long and short term)
What will happen if you don’t? (both long and short term)
Injury prevention efforts should lead to the “team’s” desired outcome . What common outcome would every team member want to achieve? We can get pigeon holed in our view and our own goals. With a thoughtfully crafted why statement, you will be ready to tackle the barriers that you will encounter along the way. In future posts, we will address those common barriers.
Please write in the comments below “why statements” you have developed to help our community of readers.
A True Tale of Two Teams: Team #1
A soccer team wanted to reduce injuries. Well, not exactly. The real passion was provided by a local physical therapist who wanted to reduce injuries on this particular soccer team. The PT volunteered his time and implemented the FMS and Lower Quarter Y Balance Testing for this group. The first year it was a challenge simply to get the testing scheduled and completed. But each year, the testing got easier and eventually the Upper Quarter Y Balance Test was added.
Every year, the players received their Move2Perform reports with the risk category (Lehr et al) as well as 3 corrective exercises to perform. There was little buy in from coaches and athletes, little follow up and no re-testing occurred. After the 4th year, the athletic trainer was exceptionally frustrated as the injury rate was still sky high. He told a colleague, “The FMS doesn’t work. Players who score a 16 are still getting hurt! We need to do more and different screening.”
Fortunately, the testing data was kept and it was analyzed. Over the past four years, 17 athletes with preventable, time loss lower-extremity injuries were identified. Their Move2Perform category was then examined and these results showed that 13 of the 17 players were in the moderate or substantial risk category at the start of the season in which the injury occurred. Is the problem that the tests were not identifying the players who were at risk? No. The problem is that the athletes who were identified as at substantial or moderate risk for injury did not receive appropriate intervention strategies and re-testing.
A True Tale of Two Teams: Team #2
A baseball team wanted to reduce injuries. Well, not exactly. The entire sports medicine and performance team wanted to revamp their injury prevention system. They wanted something stable, reliable, and scalable. They hired a consultant to systematize their injury prevention. After working with the consultant, they elected to do the FMS and Y Balance Test and categorize athletes using the Move2Perform software. They created a mission statement and goals. After testing, they developed a strategy for each player to address the deficits found. They had a re-testing schedule and organizational accountability for the outcomes.
At the end of the season, they had one of the lowest injury rates in their history as well as one of the lowest injury rates among their peers. They found that if a player entered the season with deficits (in the higher risk Move2Perform categories), they were 4 times more likely to get injured. If they were able to improve the deficits and get the player into a lower risk category, they did not get injured. The next year, they had a plan to improve their testing, intervention strategy, and outcomes.
Both teams used testing for injury prevention. Why was only one team successful? Here are a few of my observations of the successful team:
- They started with Why: One team recognized that the best way to improve player performance was to keep them on the field in the first place (prevent injury). Each staff member from lowest level to highest level gave the same answer to the question: Why are we doing this?
“Last year, we had too many injuries that kept key players from performing their best.
We are doing this so everyone can stay on the field with top notch performance.”
- They had entire organizational buy in from coaching, strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, and medical staff. They owned and internalized the process. The system became part of their culture.
- They analyzed their current state: What was their historical injury rate? What were they currently doing? What was working, what wasn’t? What tests or screens were providing meaningful information? What things were they collecting because of tradition?
- They had a written mission statement and objectives. They effectively communicated why, how, and what they were doing.
- They use multiple risk factors and categorize their team members by systematically weighting those factors. They don’t rely on a single risk factor for their risk identification and intervention strategies.
- They financially invested in the system. When things are free, people don’t see as much value in them as when they purchase them.
- After testing, they had clearly written intervention strategies that were communicated among all involved parties.
- They monitored their outcomes and developed strategies for improvement.
- And finally, the successful team had a checklist throughout the continuum of care and across disciplines.
Bottom line: The successful team improved player performance by implementing systematic injury prevention. Future posts will expand upon each of the characteristics and describe implementation strategies. Subscribe here to be sure you receive future posts.
Have you identified other characteristics of teams successfully implementing systematic injury reduction and performance improvement? Add your comment below to help better our community.
12 Jul 2015
Please help guard your kids from their next ACL tear. Please.
As a father of 4 boys, protecting their health and wellbeing is of utmost importance to me. My wife and I believe sports participation offers our children physical, emotional, and leadership benefits. Unfortunately, sports injuries are costly both physically and emotionally. It seems that injuries are just part of the package. Or are they?
These injuries can be reduced. That’s right, we know how to predict and prevent ACL tears and all of the subsequent misery. We know how to prevent ankle sprains and other maladies. The real problem is that we just can’t get parents and health care providers to take action.
Numerous researchers, myself included, have dedicated their lives to injury prediction and prevention. So, what do we know? By combining multiple, easy to perform movement tests and other evidence-based risk factors, we were able to develop an injury risk algorithm that categorizes an athlete’s injury risk. We put the algorithm into a novel software application called Move2Perform, making injury risk prediction available to fitness and health care professionals globally.
A study by Lehr et al validated this algorithm in collegiate athletes. Lehr’s study demonstrated that athletes who were categorized by the Move2Perform software as being in the highest two risk categories were 3.5 times more likely to get hurt than their peers. Interestingly, no athletes who were in the optimal (lowest risk for injury) group were injured — apparently being “protected” from injury.
A similar algorithm has been developed for the U.S. military. Our ability to test and categorize many people quickly led a team of researchers to replicate the injury prediction in sports for the U. S. Military. The result was a 5 year research project called the MP3 study—Improving Military Power, Performance, through Prevention – which developed an injury predication algorithm for our service members. In addition, these sports and military algorithms are now being applied in the occupational setting.
But what can I do as a parent?
There are several steps parents can take to decrease their child’s risk of injury. Begin by embracing prevention. Like vehicles, bodies require preventative maintenance. Youth does not insulate your child from injury. A comprehensive movement “check up,” annually at minimum, is essential for musculoskeletal health.
In addition, here are 6 suggestions you can implement as a parent to help protect your child from injury (I will expand on each of these in subsequent posts):
1) Don’t have your child specialize in one sport too early or play too often. Using the guideline of no more hours per week in sports practice or competition then their age can solve a lot of problems
2) Find a provider using the best evidence available for your child’s movement screening
3) Be sure research-validated testing is performed pre-season and between sport seasons
4) Ensure that the risk factors identified during testing are corrected and verify that they have been corrected with re-testing
6) If your child does get injured, insist on standardized, evidence-based return to sport testing prior to being released from medical care. Being pain-free and “feeling great at practice” is not sufficient.
I realize it is hard to make injury prevention measures a priority between all of the practices and games, but identifying and correcting faulty movement patterns is essential to musculoskeletal health. We schedule maintenance for our cars to avoid inconvenient breakdowns. We see the dentist twice a year for precisely the same reason. It’s time we embrace the wonderful truth about injury prevention—injuries can be predicted and prevented.
Misconception #1: The Functional Movement Screen isn’t really a screen because it’s not sensitive
Misconception #2: The Functional Movement Screen is designed to be diagnostic
Misconception #3: The Functional Movement Screen results relate to how the person will perform under load or in competition
To read the entire post CLICK HERE
Disclosure: I teach an online Return to Sport Testing course for MedBridge. To find out why I recommend MedBridge CLICK HERE
Using two different statistical techniques, the authors performed a factor analysis to determine if the individual tests of the Functional Movement Screen are independent of each other or sum together into one construct. Basically, they looked at whether the total score of the FMS is useful to reveal the whole picture of an individual’s movement or if the individual score on each test needs to be considered.
Here is what they found:
“Results do not offer support for validity of the FMS sum score as a unidimensional construct.”
The individual test results give different information than the total FMS score. In other words, a score of 1 on the push up is not measuring the same movement construct as a score of 1 on the squat.
Another quote from the study:
“When using FMS results to communicate with patients and to direct rehabilitative needs, the sports medicine professional should focus more on the individual movement scores rather than the composite score”
This is definitely the case, as a person can have a composite score of 16 and score a 1,3 on the Active Straight Leg Raise and a zero on the squat. Even though the person has a high composite score, he still has pain and substantial fundamental movement deficits that must be addressed.
Bottom Line: While the Functional Movement Screen composite score was initially used in injury prediction research, the score on the individual tests is more important. In my opinion (supported by the research), you should not have any 0’s (pain) or 1’s (can’t perform a simple movement pattern) on any individual test. But guess what, if you have at least 2’s on all 7 tests, you already have a minimum of a 14.
Remember, the Functional Movement Screen is a filter, what are you trying to catch? I am primarily interested in catching pain with movement as well as the inability to perform a simple movement.
Ben Kazman J, Galecki J, Lisman P, Deuster PA, Oʼconnor FG. Factor Structure of the Functional Movement Screen in Marine Officer Candidates. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(3):672-8.
26 Apr 2014
Recently, I tested a player in professional sports who had the following Y Balance Test and Functional Movement Screen scores.
If you will notice, his Y Balance Test Lower Quarter scores were great – symmetrical and above the risk cut point for his gender, sport, and competition level. But his Functional Movement Screen was riddled with fundamental movement pattern deficits and asymmetries. This a classic example of why both tests are necessary for a more complete profile of the athlete’s motor control of body weight.
In an unpublished analysis of 1490 athletes/active individuals, we found 677 (45%) passed the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter and of those 677 that passed, 243 (35%) failed the FMS. So, if you only use the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter, you will miss about 16% of the athletes who are at risk of injury.
However, consider another athlete on the same team:
As you can see with this player, his FMS score was good (no zero’s or one’s). While he may possess movement competence as demonstrated by the Functional Movement Screen, he has deficits in his motor control capacity as measured by the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter. But with an anterior reach asymmetry and a composite score below his peers (other professional baseball players), he is at risk of injury. His dynamic left/right imbalance and decreased performance at his limit of stability is a substantial risk factor for injury.
If we go back to the analysis of the 1490 athletes/active individuals, we found that 535 (35%) passed FMS and of those 535 that passed, 253 (47%) failed the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter. If you just use the FMS, you will miss about 17% of the total number of athletes who are at risk injury.
Thus, it is important to use both the Functional Movement Screen and Y Balance Test for a more complete profile of the athlete as well as the most robust injury risk prediction (see Lehr et al 2013). Or at a minimum, establish basic motor control competency with the Functional Movement Screen first, then move on to the Y Balance Test.
What do you think?
- The Selective Functional Movement Assessment top tier testing reliability was examined in two ways:
categorizing each of the 7 patterns into pattern into 4 categories (FN, FP, DN, DP) or by the criteria checklist (the criteria by which each movement is determined to be functional or not). Both methods demonstrated good to excellent reliability in raters who have experience with the grading (i.e. greater than 25 hours experience with the SFMA). Raters with only 8 hours experience had poor reliability. This speaks to the importance of training AND practice in clinically assessing movement (Juneau et al and Glaws et al)
- An individualized corrective program based on movement deficits identified by screening improved collegiate softball players Move2Perform injury risk category. In addition, the FMS and YBT scores improved with significant difference from baseline to final testing in both screens. With regard to overall injury-risk category, there was a 31.2% reduction from high-risk to low-risk categories with this individualized injury-prevention program. The researchers suggested further risk reduction may have occurred if all of the players in the highest risk category (substantial risk) received one on one interventions (Erion et al)
- A high percentage of athletes after ACL reconstruction cleared by the surgeon to return to sport did not pass even basic injury prediction tests including the Functional Movement Screen and Y Balance Test Lower Quarter. The authors stated, “progressive standardized tests of neuromuscular function may be beneficial to add to the interdisciplinary decision making process when returning patients safely to their prior level of sports participation” (Butler et al)
Erion A, Alm A, Hudson C, Matsel K. Athlete-Specific Corrective Exercises Improve Functional Movement Tests and Injury Risk Categories in a Collegiate Softball Team. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A53-4.
Juneau CM ,Hewett T, , Glaws K, Becker L, Di Stasi S. Inter- and Intra-rater Reliability of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment in a Healthy Population. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A53.
Glaws K, Juneau CM, Becker L, Di Stasi S, Hewett T. Intra- and Inter-rater Reliability of the Standard Scoring of the Seven Fundamental Movements of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) in Healthy Adults. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A53.
Butler RJ, Mayer S, MD, Garrett W, Taylor D, Moorman C, Toth A, Queen R. Functional testing differences in ACL reconstruction patients cleared vs. not cleared to return to sports using clinical examination. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1) A34
While there has been a lot of great information presented, here are a few pearls from the first day:
- Not surprisingly, wrestlers perform better than baseball players on the Upper Quarter Y Balance Test. Just like the Lower Quarter Y Balance Test, norms and risk cut points need to be gender, age, sport/activity specific. Want more info in need for population specific norms CLICK HERE
- Shoulder flexion ROM limitation may be a risk factor for injury in professional baseball pitchers. This was not presented as formal research, but was briefly mentioned as an upcoming publication during the morning throwing athlete session. I am intrigued.
- Asymmetrical Lower Quarter Y Balance Test at 12 weeks status post ACL reconstruction identifies those who won’t pass hop testing at time of return to sport. This is important as it can identify early those who may need different rehab strategies before higher level (e.g. plyometric) activity can be performed
Garrison C, Wolf G, Bothwell J, Conway J, Thigpen C. Single Leg Squat Symmetry at 3 months is related to Single Leg Functional Performance at Time of Return to Sports Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1):A50-51.
Myers HS, Poletti M, Butler R. Functional Performance on the Upper-Quarter Y Balance Test Differs Between Throwing Athletes and Wrestlers. Poster presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1):170.