Eric Scudamore, Xiujing Zhao, James Church and Veronika Pribyslavska

Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR

Extensive functional movement screen (FMS) and Y-balance test (YBT) data exist for male athletes participating in various sports, while the utility of these screening tools in female athletes is comparatively lesser known. We are unaware of any investigations that have examined FMS and YBT tools in relation to injury in elite female softball athletes despite injury incidence similar to that in male baseball athletes. PURPOSE: Evaluate the association of FMS, YBT upper quarter (YBT-UQ), and YBT lower quarter (YBT-LQ) composite scores with the incidence of musculoskeletal injury in elite female fast-pitch softball athletes. METHODS: Thirty-eight athletes (Age = 22.9 ± 2.6 years, Height = 170.2 ± 5.2 centimeters, Mass = 65.5 ± 7.2 kilograms) completed pre-season FMS and YBT assessments led by team strength and conditioning staff. Injury data were collected throughout one season and categorized based on location of injury, then recoded as a binary variable. Welch T-test and effect size were used to compare FMS, YBT-UQ, and YBT- LQ composite scores between injured and non-injured groups. Point-biserial correlational analyses were used to explore the relationship between each composite score with injury status. RESULTS: FMS scores were significantly lower for the injured group (13.3 ± 2.5) compared to FMS scores of the non-injured group (16.6 ± 1.6) (p ≤ .001; d = 1.52). Lower FMS composite scores were associated with injury (r = .61; p <.001). No between-group differences existed for YBT-UQ (p =.67; d = .14) and YBT-LQ (p =.16; d =.50) composite scores between the injured (UQ = 96.0 ± 5.9; LQ = 96.7 ± 8.2) and the non-injured (UQ = 97.1 ± 1.6; LQ = 101.0 ± 9.1) groups. No significant associations were found between injury status and YBT-UQ (r = -.08; p = .64) or YBT-LQ (r = -.24; p = .14). CONCLUSION: Lower preseason FMS, but not preseason YBT composite scores appear to be linked to injury risk in elite female softball athletes. In the current sample, injured athletes scored significantly lower than non-injured athletes on pre-season FMS. Additionally, mean FMS composite scores for injured athletes was less than 14, which has been previously established as a threshold score for elevated risk of incurring musculoskeletal injury. These findings support the use of FMS for screening high-level softball athletes for musculoskeletal injury risk.

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