Background The Nine Plus screening battery test (9+) is a functional movement test intended to identify limitations in fundamental movement patterns predisposing athletes to injury. However, the interseason variability is unknown.
Aim To examine the variability of the 9+ test between 2 consecutive seasons in professional male football players.
Methods Asymptomatic Qatar Star League players (n=220) completed the 9+ at the beginning of the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Time-loss injuries in training and matches were obtained from the Aspetar Injury and Illness Surveillance Program. No intervention was initiated between test occasions.
Results A significant increase in the mean total score of 1.6 points (95% CI 1.0 to 2.2, p<0.001) was found from season 1 (22.2±4.1 (SD)) to season 2 (23.8±3.3). The variability was large, as shown by an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.24 (95% CI 0.11 to 0.36) and a minimal detectable change (MDC) of 8.7 points. Of the 220 players, 136 (61.8%) suffered a time-loss injury between the 2 tests. There was an improvement in mean total scores in the injured (+2.0±0.4 (SE), p<0.001) group but not in the uninjured group (+0.9±0.5, p=0.089). The variability from season 1 to season 2 was large both in the injured (ICC 0.25, 0.09 to 0.40, MDC 8.3) and uninjured (ICC 0.24, 0.02 to 0.43, MDC 9.1) groups.
Conclusions The 9+ demonstrated substantial intraindividual variability in the total score between 2 consecutive seasons, irrespective of injury. A change above 8 points is necessary to represent a real change in the 9+ test between seasons.
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