Josh Funk: Movement Assessments for Lacrosse Part 3

Josh Funk Lacrosse

-April 10th, 2012-

The 3rd and final section of Movement Screening for Lacrosse is here and it may be the most important read of the bunch.  In this section, I will break down 3 movements that I look at for the upper half of the body and their relation to performance and injury risk in lacrosse. If you are tuning into this blog series for the 1st time, I highly suggest you take a rewind back to part 1 and part 2 before reading any further.

In these next 3 screens, I will break down the athlete’s posture, scapular stability and mobility through key areas of the body.  While the lower body is the foundation for any sport and is highly important, these 3 movements expose “chinks in the armor” of many lacrosse players that I have worked with to date.

One thing that is constant throughout the previous movements, as well as the next 3, is that they all follow the Joint-by-Joint Approach. This approach is a unique, but simple, view at the way that the body is intricately linked through the various joints of the body and how each joint will typically need either more stability or more mobility. The Joint by Joint Approach forms the basis for not only my screening process, but also the exercise selection for my athletes.

The first upper body movements I look at is the Wall Angel. This movement looks to expose the ever growing Call of Doodee population that we have throughout our young athletes. This new breed of youth athletes has been known to sit on their rear ends for hours at a time. In addition, they sit 20+ hours in school each week, and their posture resembles that of their grandparents.

What the Wall Angel test specifically looks at is thoracic spine extension and anterior shoulder mobility. For the starting position of the Wall Angel, I have the athlete stand tall with their back against the wall. Then I take a quick look at how much space is between their low back and the wall before asking them to pick their arms up and place them in the “stick up” position. I am looking for 3 things in particular: 1) For their low back curve to remain the same position as when their arms were down at their side 2) For their head to maintain its neutral position on the wall 3) For the athlete’s wrists, elbows and upper back to make contact with the wall. An athlete who unable to perform this movement at an optimal level will typically compensate by having an increased curve (lordosis)in their lower back as well as a rib flare, placing them at risk for a wide range of injuries.

This is a particularly important movement for any lacrosse player to own because they all have to have their hands over their shoulders at some point, especially shooters! If an offensive player constantly goes into increased lordosis every time they reach over their head, they are putting themselves at risk for breakdown in the low back at some point during their career. I would have to say that a majority of the time, any lacrosse player that has come to me with low back pain has failed this test along with the Seated Rotation movement.

With the Seated Rotation movement, we are looking in particular at the body’s ability to rotate above the hips. This movement is particularly important for shooting on the run because the athlete is really relying on their rotational force to drive the shooting motion, due to their inability to plant off of their feet as they run downhill towards the goal. Seated Rotation has important implications for Time and Room shooting as well. An athlete must have optimal rotation above the hips this allow them to pop their hips through on their shot before the rest of their body. This will allow the athlete to generate maximum force through the lower body and carry it into a rapid rotational movement that drives upward into the upper body, similar to a pitcher throwing a fastball.

For this movement, we have the athlete sit on a table and place a dowel behind their neck and on their shoulders, similar to when they perform a back squat. From this position, we lock in the athlete’s legs so that they are fixed to the table and then instruct them to rotate left and right as far as they are able to. What we are looking for is an asymmetry or an athlete who is unable to reach 80 degrees of rotation. To measure this, we will take a video from above using KinesioCapture (which is an AWESOME motion analysis App available on the iPAD and iPHONE).

Typically, an athlete who has an asymmetry or is limited with this motion will have deficits in their T-Spine. Following the Joint-by-Joint Approach, this is an area that typically lacks mobility and will need to be addressed in order to ensure that the stable areas above and below aren’t used more than they should be, which would lead to breakdown.

The last movement I look at is one that has been a relatively new addition to my top tier movements. The Quadruped Rock is one of the Prague School tests that I have learned after immersing myself in Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), which is a rehabilitation approach out of the Prague School in Czech Republic ( This movement looks specifically at the stability of the scapula in the all fours position while performing a “rock” forward. What we are looking for in this movement is for the shoulder blades to stay close to the ribcage both before and during the movement. Any “winging” of the scapula should be noted as well as any asymmetry between sides. A “winged” scapula does not provide a sufficient stability point for the upper arm, leaving it vulnerable to breakdown. This is a key joint in the body where we need Proximal Stability for Distal Mobility. The stability at the scapula allows the humerus (upper arm bone) to be centered in the gleno-humeral joint where the muscles will function at an optimal level. These muscles are your rotator cuff muscles and need all the help they can get in providing stabilization to the most mobile and vulnerable joint in the body.

This movement is particularly important for lacrosse players because the game of lacrosse demands a large amount of movement and impact at the shoulder joint. Whether an athlete is shooting, checking, passing, facing off, etc., the shoulder is an integral part of every aspect of lacrosse.

That wraps up this series on Movement Screening for Lacrosse. I just want to make sure that you take home a couple of key points with you:

1)     Movement screening allows you to look not only at injury risk, but whether or not your players could be performing at a higher level than they already are!

2)     Movement screening keeps us accountable as strength coaches and rehabilitation professionals. It lets us know that what we are doing is either working, or not.

3)     If you are a strength coach or lacrosse coach and your athletes are not being screened in a regular basis, what are you waiting for?

I just want to big a give thank you to Sean Holmes for allowing me to present this material to all of the readers at! I hope that all of you found it beneficial and apply some of the information immediately with your athletes. If you ever have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me! Thanks.

~Coach Funk

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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