Sports Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 401–417 | Cite as

Strength and Power Assessment

Issues, Controversies and Challenges
  • Peter Abernethy
  • Greg Wilson
  • Peter Logan
Review Article


Athletic strength and power refer to the forces or torques generated during sporting activity. Their assessment can be used for strength diagnosis or talent identification, to monitor the effects of training interventions and to estimate the relative significance of strength and power to particular athletic pursuits. However, strength and power assessment is a difficult task. Reasons for this include: the fledgling status of research within the area, our limited understanding of the mechanisms underpinning strength and power performance and development, and limitations associated with various forms of dynamometry. This article describes a frame work for the collection of data which may ultimately lead to recommendations for the assessment of strength and power in sporting contexts. Such a framework will be evolutionary and depends upon synergistic improvements in our understanding of: the physiological mechanisms underpinning strength and power development; the effect that various training regimens have upon the development of strength and power; and factors influencing the validity and reliability of dynamometry.

Currently, isometric, isoinertial and isokinetic dynamometry are employed in assessment. Each form has its supporters and detractors. Basically, proponents and critics of isokinetic and isometric dynamometry emphasise their apparently high external and apparently low internal validity respectively. While the converse applies for isoinertial dynamometry. It appears that all 3 modalities can have acceptable reliability, however this should be established rather than assumed, as the reliability of each can be threatened by a number of considerations (e.g. instruction for isometric tasks, the impact of weight used during weighted jumping tasks, and the effects of gravity and feedback on isokinetic performance). While reliability is a seminal issue in assessment, it is not the only critical issue. Specifically, there has been little research into the correlation between strength and power measures and athletic performance. This work is central to the use of such indices in talent identification. To date, this work has generally been limited to heterogeneous rather than homogeneous groups. More work is required in this area. Furthermore, not all modes of assessment are sensitive or similarly sensitive to various training interventions. This suggests that these modalities are measuring different neuromuscular qualities. How these qualities relate to performance requires more work, and will determine the contexts in which various strength and power assessment modalities and protocols are used. Following are conclusions from the review: (i) it is unlikely that one assessment procedure can be used for a multitude of ends (e.g. talent identification and monitoring the effects of training); (ii) different levels of athlete ability within a given sport may require different assessment regimens; (iii) minor changes in procedure may alter the usefulness of a procedure and (iv) we must be prepared to question assumptions pervading the field which are based upon anecdotal evidence. There are limitations with, and should be delimitations in the use of the various protocols and forms of dynamometry.


Maximal Voluntary Contraction Athletic Performance Vertical Jump Bench Press Exerc Sport 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Abernethy
    • 1
  • Greg Wilson
    • 2
  • Peter Logan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Exercise Science and Sport ManagementSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

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