Movement Compensation Screen (MCS)

Movement screening is a critical part of preventing injury in athletic population groups. The Movement Compensation Screen (MCS) is a valid clinial assessment tool that can reliably assess players in real-time who may be at risk of injury. Coaches/trainers/healthcare practitioners can now use the screen to assess their athletes/players/clients movement competency in biliateral, unilateral and jump landing positions. From here, appropriate corrective exercises are then prescribed to improve their movement limitations.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is the MCS?
  3. MCS Research Abstract
  4. MCS Scoring System
  5. MCS 1 – Overhead Squat (OHS) Scoresheet
  6. Future Research
  7. Conclusions
  8. References


Functional screening tools are popular in sports-medicine settings and are commonly used to evaluate balance, movement dysfunctions, and muscle imbalances.1-4 The goal of some clinical functional screens is to provide a concise, cost-effective and easily implementable method to identify problems in the musculoskeletal system that may lead to athletic injury.3, 5-7  Such tools can provide an efficient method for clinicians to predict and identify individuals who may be at risk for injury. In addition, sports-medicine clinicians can use the results from the screens to develop  pre-habilitation programmes to reduce this injury risk.8

Several risk factors for injury have been reported, such as joint laxity, range of movement (ROM), strength and balance. However, the evidence is, at best, mixed as to whether these variables are indeed significant risk factors for injury occurrence. Joint laxity has been shown in several studies to be significant in both males and females,9-11 whereas other studies found no association.12-14  The same variability has been reported for a lack of joint ROM.9,15,16   With regard to muscle strength, two studies11,12 found an association between strength differences between antagonist muscles in the leg and thigh and injury, however, these findings were questioned by other reports.10,14,15   Finally, research regarding the association between balance and injury has also displayed conflicting evidence with some findings demostrating a positive relationship between balance and injury,5,17 and others11,14 showing no relationship. Collectively, all this work suggests that the design of an effective pre-season screening tool will require much more research to find and evaluate variables that may predispose an athlete to injury.

What is the MCS?

The Movement Compensation Screen (MCS) is a clinical assessment tool that has been developed to assess an individual’s closed kinetic chain flexibility, mobility and stability using sport-specific tasks. Subjects are tested on three tests using bilateral, unilateral and jump landing environments.

The tests include:

  1. MCS 1 – Overhead Squat (OHS)
  2. MCS 2 – Single Leg Squat (SLS)
  3. MCS 3 – Jump Landing Mechanics (JLM)

The three tests were chosen as they utilize the typical positions often seen in the sport-specific environments and are thought to provide the foundation of more complex athletic movements.
ohs-pic  sls-pic jlm-pic






MCS Research Abstract

The Movement Compensation Screen (MCS) is a valid and reliable clinical assessment tool for prediction of non-contact injuries

Karl D. Gilligan


Context: Movement screening is a critical part of preventing injury in athletic population groups. A valid clinial assessment tool that can reliably assess players in real-time who may be at risk of injury would be very useful for sports teams.

Objective: This study sought to determine if the MCS could predict lower extremity injury in elite soccer  and amateur gaelic football (GAA) players, and to examine the inter-rater reliability of the MCS.

Design: Retrospective study with pilot reliability study.

Setting: Clinical setting.

Participants: 53 male volunteers (23 elite soccer and 30 amateur GAA players).

Intervention: Data on inter-rater reliability of the MCS was first obtained on a team of six physiotherapists using three subjects. Scores on the MCS, comprised of three movement tests, were calculated before the start or their competitive seasons. A sports injury retrospective questionnaire was used at the end of the season to record injury data.

Main Outcome Measures: Intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to calculate interrater reliability of the MCS. A Mann Whitney U-test was performed to determine if a significant difference existed in MCS composite scores between injured and non-injured players. A receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to determine a cut-off score for the MCS that maximized sensitivity and specificity.

Results: ICC for the combined group of raters was 0.992. A Mann Whitney U-test revealed a significant (P=3´10-6) difference between the mean scores of injured and non-injured groups. Subjects with an MCS composite score of ≥ 26 were significantly more likely to sustain an injury with a Cohen’s Kappa (k) of 0.621 indicating a substantial agreement.

Conclusions: Compensatory movement patterns can increase the risk of injury in male soccer and GAA players, and can be identified by using a MCS screening tool.

Key Words: Injury risk, male athlete, movement screening

MCS Scoring


MCS 1 – Overhead Squat (OHS) Scoresheet

Future Research

To make results more generalizable, future studies incorporating a larger, more diverse range of athletes including female athletes from various sports are warranted in order to determine if the MCS can be used to predict injury in these sports as well as female population groups. Future research on the MCS could also be directed towards the performance aspect of Strength & Conditioning as opposed to the injury prediction side, specifically if poor performance on the MCS results in poor performance on performance testing results (eg linear speed, power, etc).


Fundamental movement patterns such as those assessed by the MCS can be done so using sport specfic tests in the clinical setting. Early research on the Movement Compensation Screen (MCS) has shown that compensatory movement patterns can increase the likelihood of injury in Soccer and GAA players, and can be identified by using the MCS. The early retrospective descriptive study on the MCS demonstrated that players with a composite score of ≥26 had a greater chance of suffering a non-contact injury over the course of one competitive season.

From this initial research, the MCS shows potential to be an effective predictor of non-contact lower extremity injury in Soccer and GAA players. However, more research on the injury prediction capabilities of the MCS should be conducted before making a definitive conclusion.

This article was written by EPI CEO Karl Gilligan


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Written by Karl Gilligan

Founder & CEO 

Elite Performance Institute (EPI)

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