Providing Real Time Feedback to Athletes Improves Power Output

We all know we are more motivated by feedback. The more accurate that feedback is and the more objective it is, the easier it becomes for us to set goals and to measure if we have achieved those goals. A series of studies has also shown that providing realtime feedback on power output on every repetition can significantly enhance power output during a training period.

Providing Real Time Feedback to Athletes Improves Power Output

One of the best ways to motivate an athlete is to provide feedback on results. Usually we do this by recording weight lifted and regular testing. It seems intuitive that if feedback could be provided on every rep in real time athletes would push themselves harder to beat themselves and team mates. This was examined by Hasegawa (2010) in the literature and found that the science supports monitoring real time power can produce significant improvements in power.

There are a number of possibilities available to the coach for providing feed back to the athlete in real time giving reliable data for such things as power, velocity, bar displacement and ground contact time.

Linear Position Transducers (LPT) are common devices whereby a cable is connected to a bar (or athlete). Linear or rotary decoders measure the displacement of the cable. By knowing the extent of the displacement of the bar and how long it took the calculation for velocity is relatively easy (velocity = displacement/time). Once velocity is calculated power and force can both be determined. Devices currently on the market are linked to hand held devices or PC’s which can display the results of the calculations per repetition.

Accelerometers have become a very widely used device recently with the usage of Iphone and other similar smart phones. Accelerometers are very lightweight and can be easily attached to a barbell or athlete. They are able to measure three dimensional displacement and acceleration from which they can also determine velocity force and power.

Most devices designed for laboratory use have been shown to be valid and reliable making it possible to compare results between and within individuals relatively easily. This can be used to compare athletes in a testing session or to look at improvements of an athlete over time.

Jandacka & Vaverka (2008) in a six week training study showed that lifting speed decreased as weight increased in a strength training exercise. This effect was decreased if the athlete was instructed to maintain the lifting speed throughout the set. However barbell speed was decreased during the set if the athlete was given verbal feedback on lifting velocity obtained through an LPT. The authors proposed that this was due to a greater utilization of fast twitch muscle fibres which fatgue more easily. Where athletes performing 10 repetitions of bench press with no feedback decreased lifting speed by approximately 20% by the last repetition. Athletes who received feedback decreased lifting speed by around 50%. The non-feedback group was able to increase bench press power by 28.4% where as the feedback group was able to increase their bench press power by 45.5%. This most likely relates to the increased fatigue of the fast twitch muscle fibres leading to an increased training effect specifically on these fibres.

In a study on collegiate American Football players by Behm and Sale (1993) athletes were divided into three training groups. Speed controlled training, jump squat training with no feedback and jump squat training with feedback. They found that although there was no difference in velocity during training between the two jump squat training groups, in the post training test the feedback group had significantly improved their bar speed.

In an applied study an experienced male shot-putter trained for three weeks using the snatch prior to the first competition. After that competition the subject trained with the snatch for a further three weeks to the next competition in training the subject was given verbal, real time feedback on power output. He was instructed to stop training when his power output went below 80% of his maximum. There was no increase in the athlete’s one repetition maximum (1RM) but there was an increase in power at all percentages of the athlete’s 1RM.

These studies demonstrate that monitoring and providing real time feedback to athletes can significantly improve power output over the course of a training period. This information may also be useful in helping coaches to monitor training and ensure that athletes peak correctly as well as determine the optimal power profile of each athlete in their training.


    1. Hasegawa, H. (2010). A real time feedback and monitoring of speed and power in resistance training for athletes. 7th International Congress on Strength Training Abstracts 2010. 51-54.

    Jandacka, D. & Vaverka, F (2008). A regression model to determine load for maximum power output. Sports Biomechanics, 7(3): 361-371

    Behm, D. G., & Sale, D. G. (1993). Intended rather than actual movement velocity determines velocity-specific training response. Journal of Applied Physiology, 74(1), 359-368.

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