PT on the Net Research

Muscle Symmetry & Dominance in Youth


When working with young athletes, what are some tests that will help to determine their dominant leg?


I appreciate your concern; especially seeing as most junior athletic programs don’t go too far into functional assessments! One of the best assessments to determine dominant leg strength is the unilateral stance and squat test. See below for specifics…


Designed to assess ankle proprioception, unilateral leg strength, core strength and hip joint stability. This assessment also assesses the client’s ability to transfer load to one leg and will compare the asymmetry of squat depth if unilateral weakness is present.


In addition to this assessment, we recommend many others (gait, single leg vertical jump, goniometric, etc,). By combining many assessments, you will be able to determine the best starting point for your athletes. Never use just one assessment to create an opinion! After you have determined the dominate leg, start to think why. Example…Is the leg strength decreased due to tightness in the hip flexor complex, therefore inhibiting the extensors ability to decelerate the leg? Remember force reduction (deceleration) PRE-cedes force production (acceleration). Of course, there could be many reasons why. Our point is to encourage you to constantly assess and re-assess to find your answers. Good luck!