Sunday, 21 Jul 2024

Force Plates: A Comprehensive Guide

Force Plates

Force plates, also known as force platforms, are invaluable tools used in sport science and biomechanical research. These instruments measure the ground reaction forces generated when someone stands, jumps, or moves across them. In this article, we will explore the applications and benefits of force plates in detail, shedding light on how they can enhance training effectiveness, monitoring protocols, and athlete screening.

Understanding Force Plates

A force plate typically consists of a rectangular metal plate with piezoelectric or strain gauge transducers attached at each corner. These transducers provide an electrical output proportional to the force on the plate. One popular commercial force plate is the piezoelectric type offered by Kistler.

Force plates offer more than just measurements of vertical forces; some models can also measure shear forces, including lateral and horizontal forces. This data can be used to determine various other measurements, such as velocity (m/s), power (Watts), displacement (Meters), temporal parameters (seconds), and left/right asymmetry (for bilateral systems).

Applications in Fitness Testing

While force plates have traditionally been used primarily for scientific research, their increasing affordability and availability have led to the development of more tests. These tests, such as the reactive and Dynamic Strength Index, provide a deeper understanding of an individual’s physical capabilities. Force plates can also enhance existing tests, like measuring vertical jump height with greater accuracy compared to timing mats alone.

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For instance, vertical jump height can be calculated using various measures from a force platform. One common method is using the formula: jump height = 4.9 x (0.5 x Time)2, where Time represents the time in seconds. Additionally, ground contact time can be measured, which is the duration between the initial foot contact with the force plate and when the participant’s feet leave the mat.

Example Products

The Kistler Force plate is an example of a research platform linked to a video camera, providing detailed information about forces passing through foot joints and the foot in all three planes of space. This integration enhances data analysis and allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of an athlete’s performance.

Fitness Tests Using Force Plates

  • Force Plate Vertical Jump: A guide to measuring vertical jump using a force platform.
  • Reactive Strength Index: The ratio between the height jumped and the ground contact time.
  • Dynamic Strength Index: The ratio of ballistic peak force to isometric peak force.
  • NHL Vertical Jump Test: A protocol that utilizes a Kistler Force plate to calculate jump height using hang time.

Fitness Tests Using Timing Mats

  • Drop Jump: A test of leg strength and power which requires the athlete to drop off a box and immediately jump as high as they can.
  • Drop Jump (Bosco): The athlete performs jumps after dropping from heights ranging from 20 cm to 100 cm.
  • Drop Jump (Incremental): The athlete jumps after dropping from a series of heights, gradually increasing the height of the box.
  • Vertical jump using a timing mat: A basic test for measuring vertical jump height.
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Q: Are force plates only used in scientific research?

A: While force plates were initially reserved for scientific research, they have become more affordable and accessible. As a result, their usage has expanded to include sport fitness testing and training monitoring protocols.

Q: Can force plates measure more than just vertical forces?

A: Yes, force plates can also measure shear forces, including lateral and horizontal forces. This capability provides a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s physical performance.

Q: How can force plates enhance existing tests?

A: Force plates offer greater accuracy and detail compared to traditional timing mats. By incorporating force plates into tests like measuring vertical jump height, valuable additional information can be gained, such as the force/velocity curve.


Force plates have revolutionized the way athletes are evaluated and trained in sport science. By providing precise measurements of ground reaction forces, they enable a deeper understanding of an individual’s strength, power, and balance. From monitoring training effectiveness to guiding return-to-play protocols, force plates are instrumental in optimizing athletic performance.

To learn more about the potential of force plates and explore our range of products, visit Auralpressure. We are your trusted source for cutting-edge sport science equipment.

Note: The original article has been completely rewritten and restructured to improve readability and SEO optimization. The content now focuses on providing valuable information about force plates while promoting the Auralpressure brand.