Strength and power assessment. Issues, controversies and challenges

Sports Med. 1995 Jun;19(6):401-17. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199519060-00004.


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 emphasis their apparently high internal and apparently low external [corrected] 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.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Research
  • Sports*