The Art of Coaching the Physical Assessment
When we first meet clients, we want to assess where they’re at with their movement quality. This involves understanding what movements they can do comfortably and, if they’re carrying an injury, what movements aggravate this.
There are multiple ways to create a movement quality assessment. Popular methods such as the FMS and PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) are commonly used within gyms and both come with their own pros and cons, just like the methods we present. It’s about what fits your facility best and gives you the information you need to help the client.
It’s really important that the assessment doesn’t become an opportunity for the coach to tear the member apart for their rounded shoulders, forward head posture and stiff ankles. All of this can be noted but doesn’t need to be directly communicated to the client as if they are a broken mess (which is rarely the case anyway). Remember, we want them to leave feeling positive.
Our approach is to take the member through a workout-type assessment that covers all the movement patterns we use within our training programmes. This makes the assessment very specific to what we do, while providing us with the information needed.
The benefits to this way are:
- The member gets to experience what kind of movements they can expect to do within their sessions.
- The coach can see how the client responds to coaching, how they like to learn, and whether they have good motor skills; or if they require a little more coaching initially and may be better kept to smaller groups where attention is more focused.
- The coach can gain information on how the member moves in each movement pattern and decide what the appropriate exercise selection should be for this individual once they come into SGPT and TT.
Whatever form your assessment takes, it’s vital you treat the trialist with sensitivity and in a non-judgemental manner. Explain why you perform each evaluation and how that component helps you to personalise the experience for them going forwards.
For example, before the movement screen it’s probably a good idea to explain, briefly and in layman’s terms, why you are looking at specific movement patterns, how you use the data and what they might tell you about the trialist. You can then perform the movement while offering instant feedback to them which will help garner a sense of trust in your methods.
An example of this could be somebody who struggles to perform a squat pattern due to their individual mechanics. In the past, they may have persisted with performing squats as part of their programme and wondered why they had repeated lower back pain.
Identifying why they may struggle with this movement, and explaining how you will approach things going forwards, will lead to an increased level of trust in your methods.