What to measure – force or pressure?
Jan 05, 2023
What to measure – force or pressure?
Ok, let’s start with the fact that there is a force and there is a pressure. Both can be measured. Moreover, there are different devices for this. But what the difference is, what to measure and why to measure? We will try to answer these questions. 

One sentence theory 
A force, which presents a vector quantity, is the push or pulls on another object, while pressure, which presents a scalar quantity, is the force acting upon a certain area, perpendicular to its surface. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? So, let’s make it more clear explaining in simple terms.  
Force plate vs pressure plate 
You can use a force plate to measure how much and in what direction you’re pushing. And with pressure plate you can see where exactly you’re applying the force. 
Now you see, the problem is that both plates could give really important information about body motion, but in different way. 
We can dig deep into physics theory and start comparing these two quantities, but we won’t do it. We believe that the practice is more helpful in this situation. 
So, what to choose really depends on your purpose. 
To be honest, when we are talking about static state of a body force plate and pressure plate are almost equal. 
However, a force plate is effective when a coach needs to analyze player’s fast movement direction. For example, we can concentrate our attention on how the energy is generated while pitching or batting. And a force plate will help us measure the force value and see the movement effectiveness. We can see if this movement is fast/strong/high enough. Or not enough. 
So, a force plate is really useful for player assessment. 
But at the same time, it is completely useless if we want to figure out the exact foot position during the movement. Only a pressure plate can show the part of the foot that was used by the player. Did he land flat or on his heel? Did he shift his foot a little right or left? Or maybe his big toe wasn’t involved in the landing process. A coach can notice all these details using a pressure plate. 
And this data is important not only for improving the performance, but for injuries revealing or prevention. 
Now, let’s look into the difference on the example of the golf swing. A force plate will demonstrate the force direction when the player shifts his weight during the swing. But can it show how weight is distributed between his trail foot and lead foot? No, It can’t. What can give us this kind of data? Exactly! A pressure plate. 
Perfect combination 

So, as you see a force plate can provide you with data which is useful in one case and completely useless in another. The same is valid with a pressure plate. 
And, of course, we cannot but note that the ideal device would be a combination of two plates. It is like a sandwich of a pressure plate and a force plate under it. The most universal and accurate data you will get if using two this kind of sandwiches one for each foot. 
Would you like to learn more about this? Contact us.