There are many ways we work with young athletes here at PRO Physical Therapy. One of the more valuable outreach activities we do as physical therapists is our Athletic Needs Assessment. These give us Athletic Baselines for our athletes.

Here is where the value rests:

  • Assessment for possible bottlenecks that could limit future training efforts
    • we use the Functional Movement Screen, TPI screen, and OnBase University screens to look at joint and full body mobility, stability, and balance
    • finding ‘Fails’ in this screen is exciting because it details a potential issue that, if cleaned up, can unlock the door to further athletic gains for the kid
    • cleaning up issues can also reduce the risk for injury in their sport or when training for their sport
  • Lower extremity injury risk with the Landing Error Scoring System (LESS)
    • this lets us quantify injury risk and assess whether an athlete has improved following a training period
  • Baseline testing for speed, power, agility, and strength
    • we test:
      • Rotational Power (both directions) with a Ballistic Medball 
      • Counter-Move Vertical Jump with both legs and single leg
      • Reactive Strength Index (RSI) with both legs and single leg
      • 5/10/5 shuttle run
      • Grip Strength

We look at the relationships between left and right legs, between double and single leg vertical jumps, and RSI. This way, we can see potential injury risks and areas for athletic improvement. If an athlete has a large left to right difference, it could signal incomplete rehab from a previous injury or an existing neuromuscular deficit. If we see higher than normal ratios of double leg to single leg efforts, this shows us a need for improved stability in knees, ankles, hips, and trunk. Comparing the tests to each other informs us of a kid’s relative ‘bounciness’ to strength ratios.

All of these combined give an athletic baseline that kids and parents can use as a backdrop to measure athletic growth, especially as training efforts ramp up during high school and college careers.


Perhaps more important than the athletic baseline is the (hopefully never to be needed) rehabilitation baseline. This comes into play should the athlete suffer a competition driven injury. Right to left comparisons are often used in Return to Sport criteria. Many health professionals want to see jumps, RSI, and strength measures within 5% when comparing the injured limb to the non-injured. This can lead to poor decisions in the case where the baseline levels were different to begin with. 

Bare with my math here:

If left vertical jump was 15.5” and right was 14” prior to injury (a commonality for right handed athletes), the decision to return a player to competition when left jump is 95% of right would subject the athlete to re-injury. Simple math shows that 95% of the right jump of 14” is 13.3”. This effort is only 86% of the pre-injury baseline, which is well below the rehabilitation green-light of 95%.

If we don’t have pre-injury baselines, we’re simply guessing on the percent of full recovery an athlete has made. 

Return to SportThe physical therapists here at PRO Physical Therapy view the assessments as essential for serious youth, high school, and college athletes. We work with top level high school, college, professional, and Olympic athletes and know the details of their training and competitive needs. We also each have kids of our own playing sports and we love helping them and their teammates reduce risk of injury and reach the heights of their athletic capacity.

Contact us today to find out when our next free Athletic Needs Assessments are scheduled!