Hawkin Dynamics Blog

10 Things to Look For When Buying a Portable Force Plate System

Posted by Drake Berberet

Introduction

Buying a portable force plate system can be tricky if you don't know what you are looking for. This post will hopefully serve as a guide to help you determine which force plate system is the best option for you.

 

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FORCE PLATE CHECKLIST

 

1. Bilateral force plate system or a single force plate?

    • Are you interested in assessing asymmetry? 
    • With a single force plate system you can only acquire left & right differences when using a single leg assessment such as the unilateral countermovement jump, or unilateral drop jump.
    • A bilateral system allows you to access asymmetry during each phase of the assessment -- such as L/R braking asymmetry, L/R propulsive asymmetry, L/R landing asymmetry, & L/R impulse asymmetry. 

2. Do you need a triaxial (i.e. Fx, Fy, and Fz) force plate system, or will vertical force suffice?

    • Vertical force is what most portable force plate systems use.
    • Triaxial force plate systems are much more expensive and are more commonly used for research.
    • Vertical force in sport is king. Most if not all movement in sport is derived from vertical force production. Even if the sporting movement looks to be horizontal or lateral, the athlete is first re-orienting their center of mass to push vertically.

3. What frequency does the force plate sample at?

    • The standard for accurate force measurement is 1000Hz.
    • Anything less than this and you should request an explanation from the vendor.

4. How portable is the force plate system?

    • Are you able to assess athletes at any location in the weight room? Or are you limited to a location by an outlet?
    • Do they have users that travel with the system? 

5. Does the system include software? How user-friendly is the software?

    • Most force plate systems nowadays come with a software that you can use to interpret the raw data.
    • However, this does not mean that all softwares are created equally. 
    • Two software types exist - those that require a wired connection, and those that do not. If a company is utilizing the "cloud" -- then the system is able to operate on a mobile phone or tablet. If not, you will have to have a wired connection to your computer while operating the force plate.

6. How are the phases & metrics calculated?

    • To answer this question requires a decent understanding of physics, and also some reading of literature from some of the world's most respected force plate researchers.
    • We recommend diving into the physics and also reading the research guidelines established, however to keep things simple -- just ask your force plate company how they calculate the metrics you have valued as important, and also the thresholds they use to determine each phase of the assessment.
    • If a company can't answer this question for you, then you should be concerned about validity.

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7. Is any support included when you make the purchase?

    • Sport tech companies are notorious for ghosting you after you make a purchase.

    • Does a company have a dedicated team for support? Are these support members educated about their system, and also understand how to effectively train athletes?

    • How quickly can you get into contact with one of their representatives? 

8. How does the price point compare to other systems?

    • Is your force plate company price gouging you?

    • Are they making claims about proprietary data collection and algorithms, and justifying the price based off of this?

    • What all does the price point include?

9. Do they offer a warranty

    • A company should stand by their products. 
    • If you have a large number of athletes that will be testing daily, you want to make sure that you have a system you can count on.

10. Are you able to download and view the raw data?

    • This piece is important if you want to analyze the data yourself (i.e. dump into an excel or another management system)
    • It is also important if you want to fact check the company and how they calculate their phases and metrics. Need help checking your raw force data? Reach out and we will gladly walk you through the process.
       

Bonus: Athlete Management

    • Does the force plate system offer any way of managing the data? (i.e. Athlete Management System) -- we do.

    • Do they also offer a consulting service to better help you understand your data? -- we do.

 


 

You Guessed It...

 

We built the Hawkin Dynamics System around these 10 points, and also our 3 Core Principles of: (1) Simplicity, (2) Transparency, and (3) Service

 

We work to continually progress the understanding and use of force plates in sport, military, rehabilitation, and research. We value each and every one of our customers, and are committed to providing the best product on the market.

 

Interested in a free virtual demo? Inquire below and one of our team members will contact you with more information!

 

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