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The Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS)

A Review of Research: Using SIMS, Could Fitness Professionals Develop More Efficient and Personalized Unilateral Training Programs?

 

The Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS) could possibly be used as a performance assessment tool or limb asymmetry assessment tool. A strength coach or athletic trainer could use SIMS as a pre-training assessment to identify weaknesses and asymmetries in order to create a more efficient and effective training program for the athlete.

 

McGunn, Aus Der Funten, Whalan, Sampson, and Meyer (2018) suggested that the development of a soccer specific movement quality assessment has the possibility of benefitting performance by identifying athlete limb asymmetries along with strength and flexibility weaknesses. The Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS) looks to fill this void in the soccer performance industry. The screen is comprised of five movements: Anterior Reach (AR), Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift (SLRDL), In Line Lunge (ILL), Single Leg Hop for Distance (SLHD) and Tuck Jump (TJ) (McGunn, 2018). Each of the 5 movements is assessed on a 10-point scoring system with the maximum number of points and worst possible score being 50. The best possible score, displaying no flaws in movement is 0. The entire scoring criteria and description of SIMS, including rationale for each movement and script for administration, is displayed below.

The Soccer Injury Movement Screen was first researched by McGunn et al. The Intra-and Inter-rater Reliability of The Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS) was studied after initial development of the screen. It was concluded that present results indicated sufficient reliability for the SIMS to be considered useful for further research and applied practitioners. Due to the promise of this study, McGunn then used the SIMS in another study on 306 male semi-professional soccer players in Wales who agreed to participate. The purpose of this research was two-fold: First, to investigate the relationship between SIMS composite score and injury risk; second, to investigate the relationship between individual subtests comprising SIMS and injury risk. The question that this study worked to answer was: Is there a relationship between a soccer specific movement quality assessment and injury risk among semi-professional male soccer players. Researchers analyzed all noncontact, time-loss lower extremity injuries for the subjects and compared them to their initial SIMS composite score. They concluded that results indicated that SIMS composite score was not associated with any of the injury categories involved and that SIMS should not be used to categorize players into high and low risk groups. However, researchers suggested that SIMS could be used to help practitioners identify limb asymmetries or used for developments in performance enhancement.

Maly, Zahálka and Malá (2014) stated that leg dominance is common in soccer. While athletes train to be proficient using both feet, most will have a preferred side. The muscular compensation to leg dominance is an increase in muscle mass and strength in the dominant leg, as well as flexibility differences between legs. Researchers suggested that more than 50% of soccer players have a lower limb strength asymmetry. For example, the knee extensors and flexors showed significant bilateral deficits in knee flexion strength compared to knee extensor strength. These findings support the common notion that soccer players are “Quad Dominant” athletes and thus are deficient in posterior muscle strength. The increased extensor activation during deceleration and explosive movements within the sport increases the anterior leg muscles’ strength and overall mass. These bilateral and anterior-posterior (AP) strength asymmetries have the possibility of leading to imbalances and injuries (Maly, Zahálka and Malá, 2014).

Most soccer (football) fitness experts would agree that unilateral and plyometric training is a necessity in a wholistic soccer training program due to the dynamic and chaotic nature of the sport. Unilateral training is not a new concept. However, are the unilateral training protocols being used efficient for each individual athlete? The Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS) could possibly be used as a performance assessment tool or limb asymmetry assessment tool. A strength coach or athletic trainer could use SIMS as a pre-training assessment to identify weaknesses and asymmetries in order to create a more efficient and effective training program for the athlete.

A research study done at a University in Indiana, United States looked at the Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS) performance by female collegiate soccer players and its possible future benefits in identifying bilateral and anterior/posterior lower extremity asymmetries. They asked “What are the results of the Soccer Injury Movement Screen (SIMS) for Collegiate Women’s Soccer Players?” By conducting the SIMS on twelve Division One women’s soccer players, researchers were able to find that the average composite score for the screen was a 7.5 out of 50 with 0 being the best possible score and 50 being the worst. They also asked if SIMS can identify bilateral and anterior-posterior limb asymmetries. None of the unilateral movements showed a significant difference between the performance in right and left legs overall. There was a large range of scores on the Single Leg hop for Distance between our sample of 12 subjects. The Tuck Jump test showed one flaw that was shown in all 12 subjects.

If the scoring system for SIMS were adjusted, then it could be used as a pre-participation screen for fitness professionals to better understand their athlete’s weaknesses and asymmetries. Developing this screen to become a norm in the performance industry could help develop a consistent way to identify and correct athletes to prevent injuries due to imbalances. They concluded that SIMS, currently, does not possess the ability to accurately assess limb asymmetries. The updated scoring system would need to include identification of which limb (right or left) displayed the flaw and a system of calculating the score for each side of the body. There also would be value in reducing the number of flaws identified. This is because a higher number of scoring criteria comes with lower accuracy in the repeatability and consistency of scoring between scorers.

 

I would be VERY excited to discuss these research studies, the pre-participation screen idea or just soccer/fitness with anyone that has questions, thoughts or feedback!

You can reach Alex via his email: CoachAlexNg@gmail.com

Twitter: @CoachAlexNg

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