By Dan Guttenplan
Coaches who invest in force analysis want high-quality data to improve their players’ performances in the weight room. However, we know that the highest priority for any addition of equipment or technology to the weight room is it has to be easy to use without taking the players off schedule.
A force plate is a weight scale that samples changes in applied force at a high rate. The data from a force plate is useful, but it’s only one part of the puzzle, and it’s important to clear up what that information can do for a coach.
A force plate is usually a strong platform that is connected to a computer or tablet. A force plate is capable of looking at all forces, such as lateral and horizontal force, not just the vertical plane.
Force plates provide rapid assessments of static and dynamic balance without running through a series of test (i.e. standing on one leg with eyes closed, etc.). Time allocation for monitoring players with force plates is a question of being able to extract as much valuable info as possible with minimum effort.
Relieves pressure from coach during player rehab
The constant pressure to which staff members are subjected during the entire competitive season can negatively impact monitoring rehabbing players. Having an automated workstation can highly reduce the risk of low-quality work. Force plate platforms can be perfectly integrated in every weight room very easily thanks to their design and dimensions.
Most force plate companies provide software with both structure and data visualization properties that are perfect for fast collection and data analysis. The data provided can help coaches recognize if an athlete is on track to hit his development goals, or whether he is ready to return to the field after an injury.
It is usually recorded by a force platform, measuring the center of foot pressure displacement during a given time period. In a quiet stance, the body is normally maintained upright and the center of mass projects over the base of support provided by the feet. The data will offer tips to correct the position of the body’s center of mass, discrepancies arise between the two, particularly during fast or high-frequency components of motion.
A force plate can measure weaknesses in muscle mass or strength throughout the body and alert a coach and/or athlete so that he can spend more time and energy strengthening those weaknesses. With horizontal and lateral measurements – not just vertical – force plates can analyze muscle performance out of just about any stance or body position.
Pressure mapping tools improve cleat fit, as well as adding another perspective to gait analysis. Tekscan, Novel, and Moticon systems are solving problems for sports medicine professionals as gait analysis is growing and becoming more practical. Coaches are realizing that instead of using research to validate general concepts, it’s better to research their own athletes with the same instruments they are reading about in the literature.