Josh Funk: Movement Assessments for Lacrosse Part 2

Josh Funk Lacrosse

-April 4th, 2012-

After introducing you all to the importance of movement screening and its implications for both injury prevention and lacrosse performance, it is time to dive into part 2 of this series on Movement Assessments for Lacrosse. If you missed part 1, I highly suggest you check that out HERE before reading any further!

In part 2, we are going to go over my general movement screens for the lower extremities and some follow up assessments that are used when things don’t look up to par. The general movement screens (“top tier” movements) consist of 3 movements that look at the lower extremities in a symmetrical stance, split stance and single leg stance position. These top tier movements are non-specific to a particular joint and look at the combined mobility and stability of the athlete’s body in each stance.

The first movement that we will take the athlete through is a bodyweight squat. For this movement, the athlete is instructed to take a shoulder width stance before squating as low as possible. We cue this movement as little as possible because we want to see the natural movement pattern that the athlete would typically use either in the weight room or on the field.  If we were to “coach” up the squat, we may get a squat pattern that is not authentic to that particular player.


As you can see from the 2 videos, we always make sure to look at the athlete’s movement from the front and the side. In the view from the front, we are looking for symmetry throughout the body as the athlete lowers to the bottom of the squat. The athlete should lower to full depth without their body shifting to the right or left and the athletes knees should track in line relative to the corresponding foot.

From the side, we are looking to make sure that the athlete’s trunk is parallel to their shins and that their feet remain flat on the ground as they reach full depth. Full depth is when the athlete has reached a point where their thighs are parallel to the ground. We are also looking to make sure that the athlete’s spinal curve does not become exaggerated as they reach full depth. The athlete should be able to maintain “neutral spine” from standing into the bottom depth of the squat. Any deviations from the norm, in either the front or side view, should be noted.

The squat is our symmetrical stance movement that has implications both in the weight room and on the field for lacrosse players. For the weight room, an athlete must have a clean squat before we even think about loading them with cleans, squats and deadlifts. An athlete who has a dysfunctional squat should not be allowed to perform these symmetrical stance lifts and a strength coach or rehab professional should break down this movement further to assess the true cause of movement dysfunction.

The squat translates to the field for lacrosse players because it is the foundation for the defensive stance used during the game and it is an absolute must for face-off midfielders. A face-off middie that is unable to squat properly will most certainly experience breakdown at some point in their career, usually in the low back or knees.

The next “top-tier” movement is our asymmetrical stance position, the in-line lunge. The in-line lunge initially requires the athlete’s feet to be in a straight line with one another. The athlete is then instructed to perform a lunge with his back knee touching the ground in line behind his front foot. As the athlete lowers his knee to the ground, he should be able to stay tall through the hips and shoulders without leaning forward or compromising “neutral spine.” If the athlete leans forward or changes their spinal curve, they may have a mobility or stability issue at the low back and/or hip which needs to be addressed. When the athlete’s knee reaches the ground, they are then instructed to hold the position for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position. An athlete who falls over or has a considerable amount of difficulty holding this bottom “half-kneel” position, may have an underlying stability problem.


Once again, if the athlete has a dysfunctional in-line lunge, I would not recommend allowing them to perform weighted lunge patterns in your weight room program. If necessary, this pattern should be broken down to assess why the athlete is unable to perform it properly.

A lunge at its foundation is a deceleration or change of direction movement, which is being done constantly throughout the sport of lacrosse. Any time that you transition from a backpedal to a sprint or cut from one direction to another, you are perform a lunging variation. This is why the lunge is such a critical movement pattern to assess for a lacrosse player. In addition to deceleration, an athlete should also have a clean lunge because it is similar to the asymmetrical stance that they need to perform Time & Room shooting! Who doesn’t want to be able to rip it like Rabil?

The last of our “top tier” movements is the single leg squat. It is quite possibly the most important lower body movement screen, especially from an injury prevention standpoint. Lacrosse, and most sports for that matter, is primarily played on 1 leg. Anytime you are running, cutting or dodging on the field of play, you are dynamically moving from 1 leg to the other. This is why the single leg squat is a perfect screen for this type of movement. Athletes who perform well on this movement show that they have the foundational ability to control their body when it is being loaded on only 1 leg.

Athletes who perform poorly on this movement are at increased risk for a variety of lower body injuries, including ACL tears. ACL tears have become an epidemic in youth sports and it is truly sad that many of the non-contact ACL injuries that occur could be prevented with proper screening and programming. If you are a coach and haven’t started screening your athletes for ACL injury risk, its time to start now!

For the single leg squat, the athlete must first balance on 1 leg in front of a box or bench that is “knee height.” After the athlete has demonstrated that they can easily balance on 1 leg, they are instructed to lower their butt to the chair or bench as slowly as possible. An athlete fails this particular screen when their knee tracks inward or they are unable to lower their body to the chair or bench with control. I always tell my players that they should think of the bench as being made of glass, and that if they sit too fast they are buying me a new one!

As I stated earlier, these 3 movements are part of the “top tier” of my screen. Typically, since many of the athletes that I see have difficulty with the 3 top tier movements, I will assess them further using a variety of more specific assessments. These assessments include but are not limited to: Drop Jump Test, Hop and Stop, Thomas Test, Adductor length test (flexors and extensors), Ober Test, Hip Internal Rotation, Hip External Rotation, Active Straight Leg Raise and Toe Touch.

When all is said and done, I will have a comprehensive assessment of the athlete’s mobility and stability in the lower body.  This lower body assessment will allow me to not only see whether or not the athlete is at risk for injury during the lacrosse season, but it will also allow me to see whether or not they have certain limitations that are limiting their athletic potential! You’d be surprised what a little extra mobility and stability in the body could do for your sprinting speed, shot speed and ability to change directions.

Hope you enjoyed part 2 of Movement Screening for Lacrosse! Stay tuned for Part 3 as we go over screening for the upper half of the body!

Dr. Josh Funk, DPT, CSCS, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is currently a staff physical therapist at Schrier Physical Therapy in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He is also a TRX Sports Medicine Course Instructor that delivers education to sports medicine professionals across the U.S. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Health Sciences in 2008, and went on to earn his DPT from the University of Maryland-Baltimore in 2011.

Aside from working as a physical therapist and strength and conditioning specialist, Josh brings an extensive playing background to the realm of lacrosse performance. In 2003, Josh played Jr. A lacrosse for the Burnaby Lakers team which was a Minto Cup Runner-Up. He also played lacrosse at The Ohio State University where he was a team captain and Co-MVP of the team that went to Ohio State’s first ever Elite 8 appearance in 2004. After college, Josh played 2 years in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) for the Minnesota Swarm and earned a spot as a reserve on the U.S. Indoor Team.

Josh recently started a lacrosse program in Montgomery and Frederick County, MD called the Lax Factory which provides club teams, coaching, clinics and camps. Lax Factory strives to help grow the game of lacrosse in this area by giving lacrosse players the elite level of coaching, education and training that they need to be successful at all levels of lacrosse.

You can contact Josh Funk at:   



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