The Performance Matrix

Screening of Movement Patterns to Optimise Training Programme

22nd March 2012

Screening of movement patterns optimise training programs

Screening of athletes is normal in elite and professional sport and is used to prevent injuries and increase performance.  Previous and even current screening protocols have focused on measuring strength, passive and active joint range and functional tests (work and sport specific). Measurement of these parameters tends to isolate every individual joint and muscle leading to training programmes which focus on traditional strength training, progressive load training, and joint and muscle stretching. It is questionable if isolated joint and muscle testing can predict risk of injury and prevent injury. More current screening protocols predict that movement control is a factor in injury prediction but do not identify which type of movement control, which movement direction or which area of the body (site).

Evidence that uncontrolled movement (UCM) is correlated to pain and dysfunction is increasing. Roussell et al (2010) showed that 2 tests of failed motor control in injury free dancers could predict injury in the low back or/ and lower limbs over a 6-month period. Many tests used to identify uncontrolled movement in the lumbar spine have now demonstrated high reliability. There is also evidence that patients with pain in the lumbar spine and patients with shoulder symptoms have even reduced motor control in these areas. The ability to identify and diagnose uncontrolled movement has been established in many studies. Specific training of reduced motor control has demonstrated improved performance and has even showed an effect on influencing symptoms, dysfunction and recurrence.

The Movement and Performance Screening System

The Movement and Performance Screening System (MPS) is a unique and simple screening tool, which evaluates movement control in individuals. It is not designed to replace current screening measures but is considered an extra tool to complete screening evaluations. This online-based screening tool provides a quick and effective method to identify the site of uncontrolled movement or the weak links and even the performance assets in every individual.

Performance Matrix screening protocol provides the possibility to identify uncontrolled movement in more detail than just observing a disruption in movement control. Through testing involving multi joint movements at the same time it is possible to identify:

1: where the uncontrolled movement occurs (site)

2: in which direction the uncontrolled movement occurs (e.g. flexion, extension, right rotation)

3: if the problem is related to motor control (low threshold) or to strength (high threshold).

The results from this assessment give specific information about the UCM in terms of joint localisation (site) direction and threshold. The advantage being that the user can then design a training programme which is highly specific to the client. Athletes can reach positive results faster with fewer specific exercises. Both individuals involved in sport and sports medicine have begun to be aware that UCM is a strong related factor to overuse and recurring injuries. Carrying out screening for UCM is an important part of movement evaluation not only to identify assets in current training programmes but also to minimise risk for injury and injury recurrence.

The Foundation Matrix (Table 1) is the basic screening protocol and is comprised of 10 simple tests, five of which test for low threshold motor control and five which test for control under load, in effect the strength component; these last five tests are the high threshold component. The total score is 50, the more weak links or uncontrolled movement found, the higher the score. The optimal result is of course 0. (Table 2: a low threshold test and evaluation, taken from “The Foundation Matrix”)

Indications for screening

There are many indications for screening with the MPS, recurrent and overuse injury, decreased performance and errors in technique to name a few. The results provided by the screening protocol provide specific information about the site, direction and threshold activation of the problem, it can even be used to identify:

-Unexplainable faults in sporting performance

-Internal factors in technical performance

-Inconsistence in repeated performance of an activity

-Loss of power during an activity requiring high load or power

Core Stability

Core stability is a term frequently used to define stability training. It can be a little confusing because it is used to describe a number of different exercises for example specific training of transverse abdominus, or training to lift a heavy weight overhead while balancing on a ball. Performance Matrix makes an attempt to classify these different exercises into different categories. The term motor control best defines the modulation used in the CNS to effectively recruit local and global muscles. Core stability according to the Performance Matrix model incorporates a variety of exercises from local motor control, global motor control, asymmetrical core strength training and symmetrical traditional strength training.

Specific training

The key concept with this screening tool is the ability to localise and identify faults in the movement system and differentiates between control training and strength training. Based on the available evidences strength training and core strength training do not correct motor control faults in the local system. There is however evidence that specific motor control training corrects local and global motor control dysfunction. However motor control training does not correct atrophy or true weakness, in this case muscle atrophy needs specific overload exercises. Both systems local and global must integrate together to produce effective normal function. Adequate return to physical activity and sport demands both training of motor control and strength systems.

Low Threshold Training

High Threshold Training

While carrying out the MPS the results are inputed into the online system which then identifies not only the overall movement control score but also the high and low risk areas in relation to faults in the low threshold motor control system and high threshold core strength system. Within this system is also a list of performance assets. This enables the user to identify plus points of the client’s current training system and not only the faults. All this information regarding movement faults and performance assets are presented together in one report (performance profile). This profile with its list of risk areas and assets forms the basis to create a highly specific and individual training program for the client. The training program includes strategies to regain motor control and strength deficits of the weak links found for all the sites and directions. (Fig 1-4)

Performance Matrixmovement and performance screen (MPS) is in use internationally in many sports including professional football (Premier League), basketball (NBA) rugby, dance companies just to name a few.


The Movement and Performance Screen is a simple web based screening protocol, which is recommended for use in the screening elite and recreational athletes. The protocol provides the advantage to specifically identify where the dysfunction is providing information for a more detailed and exact training program to be designed.

Is Performance Matrix MPS the critical missing piece in screening, injury risk profiling and specific training? We think so.


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