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The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) is a whole-body movement classification system that identifies non-optimal movement performance requiring further assessment. There needs to be more evidence specifying the training time required to obtain SFMA reliability for entry-level health care practitioners.


The primary intent of this study was to determine SFMA inter-rater reliability between two third-year physical therapy students following an in-person three-hour training and one-hour follow-up training with a certified SFMA physical therapist. The secondary purpose was to compare rater scores of the composite criterion 50-point checklist and rater categorization using the top-tier movements in real-time assessments of healthy participants.

Study Design

Inter-rater reliability study.


Two novice raters received training on assessing movement using the SFMA. Participants included non-pregnant healthy adults screened for general exercise, participants were excluded for history of orthopedic surgery within the prior six months. Three independent raters, including two novice and one SFMA-certified rater, individually assessed the top-tier movements in separate rooms in real-time. Participants were randomly assigned a start location, and raters were blinded to each other’s criterion 50-point checklist and categorical scoring. Statistical analysis included a paired t-test, a repeated measures ANOVA, and a two-way, mixed absolute agreement ICC.


Twenty-five participants (23.4 years ± 1.9; 72% female) completed the SFMA top-tier movements. Significant differences were identified with novice raters identifying fewer non-optimal movement patterns than the certified clinician. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC2,1) was moderate (0.60, p


Third year physical therapy students were able to demonstrate moderate inter-rater reliability assessing healthy individuals using the 50-point criterion checklist. Variation between novice raters may reflect the amount of previous exposure assessing movement and suggests that some may require more time learning and practicing in order to identify non-optimal movement patterns that may require further assessment.

Level of Evidence



This article was originally published in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, volume 18, issue 4, in 2023. (1836 kB)
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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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