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Seven tests young athletes should try to ace


articipation in sports requires a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination amongst other attributes. Young athletes that have a strong balance of these characteristics are less likely to become injured. There are a few quick and easy tests that can help determine whether your athlete or child is ready for competition. ■ Squat — Standing with feet hip-width apart, have the athlete squat until the thighs are parallel to the floor. A normal squat includes keeping your heels on the floor, bottom back, and knees in line with your second toe. A

poor squat may be due to decreased flexibility or strength. ■ Single-leg squat — Have the athlete stand on one leg and perform a squat. Note any losses of balance or uncontrolled movements in the trunk. Compare side to side for any obvious differences. A faulty single leg squat may be due to poor neuromuscular control. ■ Single leg balance — Have the athlete stand on one leg for up to one minute. Watch for increased movement in the ankle, hip, or trunk. ■ Hamstring flexibility — Position the athlete on his or her back. Have the athlete keep both knees as straight

as possible, then lift one leg up as high as possible. Estimate the amount of motion that occurs. At least 75 degrees is preferred. ■ Broad jump — Have the child jump as far as possible and stick the landing. The distance of the jump should be greater than the height of the athlete. ■ Single leg hop for distance — Have the athlete stand on one leg and hop as far as possible. Count the landing if the participant can stick the landing for approximately two seconds. Measure the distance and compare one side to the other. ■ Plank — The athlete lies down on his or her stomach before propping up on his or her elbows. The elbows should stay shoulder-width apart while the feet remain in a narrow base without touching. Then, elevate the trunk so that only the forearms and toes are on the ground. Make sure that the shoulders, hips, and ankles are in a straight line. Record the time until the athlete is unable to maintain the straight position. These are just a few examples of functional movements and positions that are repeated throughout athletic endeavors. Although they do not take the place of a complete physical assessment, they will help identify those athletes who may be at risk of future injury. ✪

Health Watch Tuan Mai

Tuan Mai is a physical therapist, certified athletic trainer and a certified strength and conditioning specialist for the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes center at Children’s Hospital Oakland. If you have questions or comments regarding the “Health Watch” column, write the SMFYA staff at



September 23, 2010

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