The modern/aspiring athlete needs more than a facility or a system that just emphasizes peak output, as the human body and performance is way more complicated than that.
Peak Output is Important – But Not the End Game
As more and more training programs use data to assess, evaluate and program strength, it is extremely important that athletes understand what is being prescribed to them and how it effects them as an individual. Each athlete is unique and is usually biased towards certain movement tendencies. Force plates, when used properly, measure the Central Nervous System’s (CNS) orientation and can help educated strength professionals give an athlete precisely what they need to improve their movement deficiencies and enhance their strengths.
Unfortunately many strength programs that are using force plates, or almost all that do not, are only training peak force output. That peak output can be measured using force plates and programmed by emphasizing force output, velocity-based training, or 1-rep maxes. While many athletes can incur value from training peak force output, it is only one part of the equation and a comprehensive training program needs to take much more into account. In fact, an athlete that is already proficient in force output or has a high ability to transfer force can actually increase his/her chance of injury by only training peak force output.
A Holistic Approach to Training Balancing an Athlete’s Individual Needs
Too many coaches invest in force plates and just go to the simplest measurement, peak force output. This narrow approach does not take full advantage of the power that force plates have to assess the Central Nervous System. Peak Force Output is easy to assess and explain to an athlete and that is why most programs gravitate that direction, but the Central Nervous System is much more complicated than that.
The Central Nervous System is the electrical wiring of the human body and it dictates how movement happens. Every person has certain tendencies and biases that be measured in their movement patterns using force plates. Some athletes need force, others need timing, while others might need to improve their ability to transfer power (amongst many other factors). There are also many athletes that can gravitate towards different movement tendencies and their needs might fluctuate week to week or even day to day. Their levels can be affected by stress, fatigue, sleep, diet, amongst many other factors. There are some days they can push their peak force, while other days need to be more nuanced and recovery needs to be prioritized. For athletes that are already proficient in force output or those that are overstressed, just going after peak force output can be detrimental to their training and health.
The KPI Way: Assess>Measure>Program>Validate
At KPI the athletes jump everyday on our force plates and our expertly trained coaching staff constantly evaluates their force plates and stress levels. We are always looking for fine details in an athlete’s jump profile and we use the data to guide our decisions on their training. We want to train the individual athlete’s unique needs and use their training to not only improve their performance, but keep them healthy over the duration of their careers. This can only happen with a granular and nuanced approach to programming and training. We wish it was as simple as peak force output, but like most things with athletic development, the answer is almost never simple and straight forward.