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Functional Movement in Youth Soccer & ACL Prevention and Recovery with Chris Gorres

Earlier this week we welcomed Chris Gorres (TrainerGorres.com) to Soccer Parenting for an hour long interview about some important topics for parents to be more aware of:

  • Functional Movement for Injury Prevention
  • Functional Movement for Performance
  • Physical Literacy
  • Warm Up Essentials
  • Empowering players to take control of their well-being
  • Movement Coaches
  • The FIFA11+ Warm Up
  • Specialization vs. Too many sports vs. Recovery
  • Moments of Ignition
  • ACL Injury Prevention
  • ACL Injury Recovery

While the complete interview can be found at the SoccerParentResourceCenter.com, below are some highlights. Membership to the parent education platform complete with over hundreds of interviews, articles, short videos, course, a welcoming community and more are just $47.00 a year of $4.99 a month.  

Functional Movement and Well Rounded Athletes


I think now more than ever, parents need to be aware of movement for their children just because we're not seeing movement. You talked about the sedentary lifestyle, but even to make that even worse or more pronounced is the lack of gym that kids are having in school, the lack of the over-scheduledness that our kids have so that they're not getting out and just playing in the neighborhood and climbing trees and doing those things anymore. So surely that has to relate to some of what you're seeing in the gym.


Yeah, I mean, a lot of times even we just teach kids how to take a fall, right? They don't fall enough. They don't know how to tumble or roll. And that was something that I learned as a young kid. I remember learning how to forward roll and back roll and sideways roll. That was part of our P.E. program. And that's something that's a little bit different, and that's not something that, per se, you want to be doing on the soccer pitch, but it's going to happen every once in a while. If you get a bad challenge and need to jump over and duck and roll, those are things that you need to be able to do.

And if you've never been introduced to that, or if you've never been introduced to different movements that maybe aren't grooved in on a normal basis, those things become so foreign. And then when you are asked to do it, you don't know where you're supposed to be, what you're supposed to use, how you're supposed to fall, how you're supposed to break the fall. So these are things that we tried to introduce at a young age. And then again, just make a more well rounded athlete, so that when they do go back to sport, they can perform at a higher level and be more sustainable.

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I believe movement, specifically our children's lack of proper movement, is one of the key problems behind overuse injuries, our ACL injury epidemic and even children dropping out of sport because they don't feel competent.  With that in mind, I dove in deeper asking Chris more about functional movement in youth soccer to make sure parents have a solid foundation of the topic.  

Teaching Movement for Quality vs. Quantity

Can, from a movement standpoint, is this something that can be measured? Is this something that you can see deficiencies in and measure and support or how do you evaluate an athlete when they're coming in to-

Yeah, absolutely. So there are basically two different ways that we can improve performance. One, we can improve movement quality and two, we can improve movement quantity. Traditional training and conditioning programs when you look at them, they address movement quantity. How much can you lift? How many times can you lift it? How high can you jump? How far can you run? All of those different things. But what we want to start to implement is in addition to all of those things, we want to implement movement quality things, right? How well you can control your rhythm. How well you can control your balance. Can you do things with tempo? Can you load symmetrically through your hips and through your ankles and things like that. And can you do the things that your body was meant to do? Right?

So when we break down movement quality, that really breaks down into mobility and stability issues, which we can talk about later on, when it comes to ACL prevention and then everything else. There are joints in your body that are meant to be mobile and our joints in your body that are meant to be stable. And sometimes we're asking the joints to do the wrong thing. So just teaching our athletes how to move properly, how to move well, not just move a lot more, I think that's really important, especially at a young age, teaching them about their bodies.

Yeah. When you have athletes that come in to Onyx or that you've worked with historically, what are some of the issues that you're seeing? Is there any reoccurring themes that you're seeing in the younger athletes that you're continuing to address or having to continue to address?

Yeah. I think one of the things that we see a lot of is, especially with the athletes who are overspecialized at a young age, they've been playing one sport in particular year round since they were eight years old, nine years old. What they're lacking is an overall athleticism, what we call a general physical literacy, right, where they might have a groove movement pattern. So when you watch them strike a ball or when you watched them a juggle a ball or receive a ball, they look pretty athletic. But when you take them out of that, they look like a fish out of water.

So what we have to do then is we have to introduce other movements that they're not getting from either playing other sports or they're not getting from a well rounded physical education program at school. And we have to almost undo some of the movement patterns that have been over compensated and then start to teach them how to move well, particularly move with good posture. I think posture is a really big one for our kids nowadays. And even adults, we're looking at the phone all day. We're sitting in chairs all day. So when you're living that sedentary lifestyle or when you have a hunched over posture pretty much all day, that's going to affect the rest of your posterior chain, your back, your shoulders, your neck, everything. And then that leads all the way down into the hips.

So we're looking at fixing posture. We're looking at engaging the glutes, which is another big one. Again, something that isn't always activated living a sedentary lifestyle. And a lot of times when people think about strengthening or stabilizing the knees, they go into strengthening quads, where really they should be strengthening glutes to help support that knee. So those are the two big ones that we focus on a lot, especially here when we see an athlete coming in and they just don't even know how to turn their glutes on.

Towards the end of the conversation we dove in deep to ACL Injury Prevention and Recovery.  Chris has worked with countless athletes in their road back to top performance following ACL surgery.  His insights here are valuable.

ACL Injury Recovery 

I'm curious for you if you've ever started working with an athlete and I'd imagine the answer is yes and I just want to dive into this a little bit, but if you've ever started working with an athlete that has been cleared or just about to be cleared to return to play and started working with them and noticed some really clear deficiencies in their movement that it was going to lead to a recurrence potentially or that is just really evidence that they still have a little bit more work to do than people realize?

Yeah, that happens all the time and this is probably the biggest factor when it comes to re-injury. Because what ends up happening in the process is you have the tissue trauma. That's your ACL tear and then you have to wait for that to heal, then you have your surgery, then you have your recovery process. And then that's healed and then that's functioning "normally." Right? But a normal knee is not what a soccer knee should look like. If that was the case, we would come out, we would be born with spikes underneath our feet. We're not meant to move at those velocities on grass. So you can't take a normal functioning knee and pretend like that's ready for soccer. So that's the first thing. The second thing is when, especially a lot of what we see are non-contact ACL injuries, which means that there was a movement dysfunction in the first place.

So the ACL is where that tissue trauma happened, but that's not the cause of the problem itself. So if you're just waiting in the process for the repair of the tissue and not addressing the root cause, well that root cause is still there. So when you go out there now, not only is that tissue more vulnerable because you've already had an ACL tear, but whatever issue that was there before, is now worse because you just went through six to eight months of doing nothing about it. And that movement, dysfunction is still there or now you don't even have the strength anymore cause you lost it. There's just a lot there that we always tell people all the time, just because you're cleared to run doesn't mean that you should run. We're still probably a month away from that because if what was happening was a dysfunction in your movement pattern, in your gait when you were running that was leading to this ACL injury, then why are we rushing right back into that?

Why are we not addressing some of the issues that led to the ACL tear in the first place? And that's something that you can even start pretty early in the process, especially when it comes to the posture and the core strength and stuff like that. We're introducing that more to some of the ACL girls that we see and unfortunately and fortunately, we see a lot of them. Unfortunate because we don't want to see any of these girls fortunate because at least when we see them, we know what to do or we're familiar with the process. But yeah, being able to address that root cause of why that injury happened in the first place, that's a big one.

If you'd like to watch the entire 50 minute interview you can find it in the library at the SoccerParentResourceCenter.com

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Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com
Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.