You are on page 1of 5

Reliability of the gFlight Compared to Force Plates

Alec Genter, B.S.


Drake Berberet, B.S
2018

Introduction

In the world of sports, performance, and training every athlete & coach is looking for
the next way to find an advantage. Whether it be through new sport specific schemes, better
training programs, or new equipment to help train. New methods to train and new equipment
to help train more effectively have exploded in the past two decades with the progression of
technology and innovation. Yet, how athletes’ performances and training are regarded have
hardly changed with reference to their assigned sport task. Metrics like 40 yard dash time,
squat weight, shuttle time, or jump height have been around for a long time in sports; however,
how we measure these metrics have changed. The variables to assess these performance
metrics haven’t changed but mainly how accurately we can obtain these variables. More
precise timing gates for sprinting, better calibrated weights, and the use of force plates or force
mats.
Force plates (or force mats in some cases) have been around for a while but have
become more readily implemented in sports and performance settings in recent years now.
This piece of equipment is a highly accurate and sensitive tool to determine the magnitude and
direction of how force is produce against the ground by an individual in the sagittal, frontal, and
transverse planes of motion. The transverse (or z) plane of motion allows for a myriad of
metrics to be calculated such as, vertical ground reaction forces, ground contact time, net
impulse, time in the air (flight), or jump height. Using when the foot is in contact with the plate
(or not during a dynamic movement) the force plate is able to register forces that are exerted
and determine all of these types of metrics and so much more. There is only one problem with
using force plates. They are incredibly expensive to purchase and install; approximately, two
force plates (which is normally what’s needed for proper analysis) can cost between $10,000-
$60,000 depending on brand, size, and install costs. Most training facilities, coaches, and/ or
athletes can’t afford these pieces of equipment, unless you’re a professional sports
organization or top tier university.
So how can metrics like jump height, reactive strength index (RSI), or ground contact
time be obtained for populations that don’t have $10,000-$60,000 at their discretionary
disposal? Well, Exsurgo has developed a new piece of equipment called the gFlight. The gFlight
is a pair of sensors that can be placed anywhere to calculate metrics like jump height, RSI, and
ground contact time using an infrared laser as the trigger for recording information. Best of all,
it sells for $400. But is it too good to be true?
The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy and reliability of jump height
from the gFlight by comparing it against the industry standard of force plates. The gFlight
manufacturer reports an error of +/- 1 inch, which is mainly due to the infrared laser having to
be above the ground in order to record data. We hypothesized that the gFlight would meet, if
not be below, that +/- 1 inch margin of error as compared to force plate data during a jump.

Methods

Two male young adults (x̅= 22 years old), participated in this study, both of which are
physically active 5-6 days per week (>300 minutes). A pair of gFlight sensors (Exsurgo, USA) and
two Bertec Force Plates (Bertec, OH, USA) were used for collecting jump metrics: jump height
(cm). Each participant was instructed to perform a countermovement jump with hands on hips
(akimbo). A total of 10 jumps were performed each day of testing at 3pm, with a total of ten
testing days. The average jump height of the 10 jumps was recorded for data analysis. Noraxon
(Noraxon USA, Inc.) MR3 software was used to assist in collecting the jump data and calculate
jump height from the two force plates. Whereas, jump height calculated from the gFlight were
collected directly from the device or application provided.
Equipment setup consisted of two force plates directly adjoined so that one foot can be
placed on each force plate. The gFlight sensors were then placed just outside the force plates
and aligned with one another directly in the middle of the force plates. Figure 1 depicts the
equipment setup from a bird’s eye view. This setup allowed for jump height to calculated
simultaneously from both collecting devices for each jump. Each participant would jump and
wait for the jump height to be recorded before the next. Approximate time for testing lasted 2-
3 minutes each day.

Figure 1. Equipment setup. Orange blocks demonstrate gFlight position, grey blocks
demonstrates force plate position. Blue blocks represent participant foot position.
For data analysis, an r2 values was calculated for jump height between the gFlight and
force plates to determine if the data was correlated. Additionally, the mean difference of the
average jump height was calculated for the ten days of testing to determine if the gFlight was
within the +/- 1 inch (2.54cm) error that is proposed by the manufacturer. All data analysis and
processing was done in Excel 16 (Microsoft, Inc., USA). A t-test of independent means was
performed in SPSS statistics software (IMB Inc., USA) to determine any if statistically significant
differences were present between the mean of each data collection device. Alpha level of 0.05
was used (df = 8).

Results

The first comparison that was done between the gFlight sensors and Bertec Force Plates
was the difference between means. An average jump height was calculated for each day, and
then a running average was calculated for each jump height collection device. Figure 1 displays
the mean difference (in cm) between the gFlight and force plates for each participant, along
with the running average for each collection device. The mean difference between collection
devices for Participant 1 was -0.041777778cm and Participant 2 was -0.746857143cm.
Figure 2 displays an r2 values for each participant between the gFlight and force plates, both of
which were found to be highly correlated (Participant 1 r2= 0.987059958, Participant 2 r2=
0.919002798).

Figure 1. Running average jump heights for gFlight & Bertec Force Plates for each participant.
Mean difference in jump height between gFlight & Bertec Force plates.

Figure 2. r2 correlation values between gFlight and Bertec Force Plates for each participant.

Figures 3 & 4 are graphical representations of the running average jump heights for
each participant. Figure 3 represents participant 1, while figure 4 represents participant 2.
Figure 3. Participant 1 running average jump heights. Blue indicates Bertec Force plates.
Orange indicates gFlight.

Figure 4. Participant 2 running average jump heights. Blue indicates Bertec Force plates.
Orange indicates gFlight.

Additional statistics were done using SPSS version 25. A t-test of independent means
was performed for each participant comparing the jump heights from each collection device for
each day. Participant 1’s test demonstrated no significant difference between the gFlight and
Bertec Force Plates calculated jump height (p < .05, df=6, t-value= -0.0117). Participant 2’s test
demonstrated no significant difference between the gFlight and Bertec Force Plates calculated
jump height, as well (p < .05, df=6, t-value= -0.48351).
Conclusion

The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy and reliability of jump height
from the gFlight by comparing it against force plates. Force plates have been the industry
standard for kinetic and performance analysis related to human movement, and with good
reason due to its highly accurate and sensitive characteristics. While force plates will remain to
be the “gold standard”, as they should be, they are not as financially feasible for many coaches
and athletes in the world of sports and performance. The invention of the gFlight was to change
the narrative and provide a portable, affordable, and accurate tool to measure performance
metrics like jump height, ground contact time, and RSI. The gFlight has been growing in
popularity and sales, so to protect the consumers: coaches and athletes, it was necessary to
test the reliability of the gFlight against force plates and validate the manufacturer’s reported
accuracy of an error +/- 1-inch (2.54cm) difference in jump height.
Upon completion of this study, it was found that the gFlight was not only accurately
reported by the manufacturer; but, the error (mean difference) was found to be well below the
+/- 1-inch reported value. This study demonstrated an error of -0.041777778cm and -
0.746857143cm, essentially 2cm less than reported—a good problem to have. Additionally, to
support this notion that the gFlight was an accurate and reliable tool to use, the statistics
demonstrated no significant difference between the two collection devices as well. The gFlight
not only appears to meet the goal of offering an affordable tool for calculating performance
metric but doing so accurately and reliably each time.
Future considerations to take into account when using the gFlight; firstly, is that this
device will always have a slightly different reported metric for jump height due to its
engineering. The gFlight sensors emit infrared lasers as the method for a trigger, these lasers
are approximately 1cm off the ground. This preset displacement in vertical height will be the
cause of this difference in jump height, and should be considered an artificial difference in jump
height not a difference due to performance of an individual. Secondly, jump heights calculated
by the gFlight can be sometimes reported slightly inflated or deflated (+/- 1cm) depending on
what part of the individual’s foot triggers the sensor during take-off and landing. It is
recommended that the toes (or balls of the feet) be the part of the feet that is lined up with the
sensors and not the heels since the heels normally touch the ground just slightly after the toes
do during landing.
Overall, the gFlight appears to be an accurate and reliable product that coaches,
athletes, and teams should consider implementing into their testing protocols or training
programs. This is mainly due its ease of transport, ability to manipulate the field of testing &
different types of movement that can be tested, and most importantly the affordability of the
unit.