Measuring Movement

Movement skills are said to be the building blocks that provide a foundation for specialised and sport-specific skills that are required in a variety of physical activities. The decision on how we measure these movement skills will be dictated by the purpose of what we are assessing them for. What information are we wanting to gather and why? The purpose may be to group a set of individuals, to identify those at risk of injury, to create educational or development programmes, to monitor changes in movement skills over time, to provide feedback to the performer or to predict performance in the future (Burton & Miller, 1998).

To measure movement skill from a quantitative perspective, usually involves assigning an outcome score to the movement. Categorical arbitrary units are often used but can lack context relating to the movement, objective meaningful scores are usually preferred such as distances, or times. These scores or results can then be used to compare against a normative group, this information can allow for comparison of an individual against their chronological or biological peers and can help identify and distinguish those with difficulty in certain movement patterns (Hands, 2002).


In measuring these skills we must try and take into account all three constructs of fundamental movement skills: locomotion, object control and stability (Rudd et al., 2015). Measuring movements in each of these gives us a more representative view of an individual’s overall movement ability. In addition to this, as is discussed in the study by Clark et al., (2016), three dimensional kinematic variables can differ in individuals by up to 65%. So whilst overall activity and scores may be similar, individual movement profiles and characteristics in children are highly variable.

During the development and future additions to our product we have tried  and continue to account for many of the factors mentioned above. We want to assess movement skills using AMAT Performance to provide individual feedback, to monitor changes in movement over time, to create effective and educational movement development programmes, to potentially identify those at risk of injury, and to allow comparison of results within and between different groups.

In order to do this we developed our product to automatically provide quantitative performance scores of movement, with additional 3D biomechanical analysis being made available for practitioners and coaches to understand the variability in each movement between individuals. For more information on our product, please visit our website

Overhead Squat

Movement in sport is dynamic, complex and random in nature. To evaluate how movement might transfer from a practice setting to an applied sport setting we must assess full-body, complex movement patterns that include the entire kinetic chain. One such exercise, the overhead squat, is commonly used in well-established screening methods. Assessing movement quality through the overhead squat challenges key structures from a mobility and stability perspective such as the ankles, hips and thoracic spine (Bishop et al., 2015).


Good technique during the overhead squat is said to require the following physical capacities (Cook, 2010):


  • Talo-crural joint mobility
  • Knee Stability
  • Hip mobility
  • Lumbo-pelvic control
  • Thoraric mobility
  • Gleno-humeral joint stability


Through utilising such tests and examining the entire kinetic chain we can not only identify and attempt to correct movement compensations for full-body complex movements such as the squat, but also correct compensations that may affect more acute movements and skills at each joint. For example, thoracic spine and shoulder health is key in sports that require overhead movement and equally throwing/catching skills and events. Research also shows that the overhead squat further challenges the anterior abdominal muscles to a greater extent than a more regressed squat variation such as the back squat (Aspe and Swinton, 2014).


For this reason, the overhead squat not only gives us insight into an individual’s ability to effectively produce and transfer force (see previous blog), but may also give us examples of movement compensations at various parts of the kinetic chain.


During our overhead squat assessment on the AMAT Performance system an individual’s technique is automatically and accurately assessed via bar position (shoulder rotation and bar displacement anterior to the body), trunk position (trunk angle in the sagittal plane, centre of mass within the base of support) and lower-limb analysis of tibia angles in both the sagittal and frontal plane to assess medial knee displacement and ankle mobility. This gives us a full picture of an individual’s movement patterning for complex, fully-body movements that are applicable to many specific sporting skills.



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Triple Extension

Triple flexion and extension is a key factor in both injury prevention and athletic performance. From flexed positions, sequential extension of the ankle, knee and hip joints allows for explosive force production resulting in greater athletic performance. Equally if these joints cannot move freely throughout their entire range of motion there is increased risk of injury, particularly for the closest proximal joint that is essentially being overused to make up for the lack of movement in other areas.


As triple flexion and extension is key in almost all sports, assessing movements or exercises that mimic these actions is common. Perhaps the most common assessment of triple flexion and extension and what is considered a fundamental movement is the Squat. Research from other movement screening has suggested that those with greater peak sagittal plane joint angles demonstrate improved squatting technique (Butler et al., 2010). Assessing the squat pattern can therefore give us an insight into an individual’s ability to effectively produce and transfer force in powerful sporting movements.


Squatting technique can be referenced to a number of different guidelines but generally the following technical recommendations are accepted.


– Flexion of the hips and knees to a position where the thighs are parallel to the floor


– Maintenance of a constant torso to floor angle

– Chest being up and out

– Heels on the floor

– Alignment of the knees over the feet


With the upward phase of the squat being the extension of the hips and knees to a standing position with the same recommendations. In addition to this it is essential athletes maintain their centre of mass within their base of support while squatting, without maintaining this relationship the athlete will inevitably lose balance and fall over.


Our AMAT Performance system assesses the back squat including analysis of the centre of mass (balance), trunk and tibia angle in the sagittal plane (hip flexion, ankle flexion) and tibia angle in the front plane (knee valgus). This information coupled with an accurate and objective assessment of  their squat depth helps inform us on our athletes’ ability to triple flex and extend, and uncover any possible limitations to their technique.


See the video below for an example of our Back Squat test and analysis.

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