Comparisons of Peak Ground Reaction Force and Rate of Force Development

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A Critical Review of the Journal Article: Comparisons of Peak Ground Reaction Force and Rate of Force Development during Variations of the Power Clean (Comfort, Allen & Graham-Smith, 2011)

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Critical Review Essay

Coaches and athletes are interested in attaining the greatest rate of force development (RFD), which is crucial to excellent performance in various sports, specifically, those that need massive production of force such as acceleration, changes of direction (COD), jumping, and throwing (Bevan et al., 2010). According to Hori et al. (2008), these activities are important in almost all sports, including rugby, basketball, American football, and volleyball. The denominator for these games is power, which is one of the most vital factors and is a core determinant of athletic performance. Power, being a product of velocity and force in an inverse relationship, call for training in these mechanical quantities. In practice, velocity and force are linked variables; as velocity of a certain sport movement increases, the athletes ability to generate force decreases significantly (Kawamori et al., 2006). With these sports aspects, the purpose of this essay is to review critically a study conducted by Paul Comfort, Mark Allen, and Phillip Graham-Smith on comparisons of peak ground reaction force and rate of force development during variations of the power clean. Previous research suggests that when training to increase muscular power utilizing loads meant for emphasizing the maximum power output is advantageous in maximizing performance improvements (Bevan et al., 2010; Cormie, McGuigan & Newton, 2011; Kilduff et al., 2007). In addition, training at the optimal load is important in increasing a maximum power output (Cormie, Deane & McBride, 2007; Cormie, McBride, and McCaulley, 2007, 2008; Cormie et al., 2011).

In line with these studies Comfort, Allen and Graham Smith (2011) sought to investigate further, the importance of power, as applied in weightlifting. They compared peak ground force reaction force and the rate of force development during power clean variations, which are power clean, hang power clean, mid-thigh clean pull, or mid-thigh power clean. The researchers used a randomized order of 60% of 1-repetitionn maximum power while the rugby players were standing on a force platform. The study participants, as mentioned, were eleven healthy male elite rugby league players between the aged 20 1.63, a height of 181.56 2.61 cm, and a body mass of 93.65 6.84 kg. However, before critically analysing the various sections of the article, it is imperative to note the purpose of the study and the motivation of the researchers. The aim of their study, as Comfort, Allen and Graham-Smith (2011) assert, was to make comparisons of peak Fz compared, as well as the instantaneous RFD during instances of hang power clean, power clean, mid-thigh clean pull, and mid-thigh power clean. As such, the importance of the study was to enable the Strength and Conditioning Coach to determine which variations in the power clean were effective in achieving the various goals in different stages in a scheduled training program. These are shown in the following figures.

The results of the research are essential in applying during training sessions for the sports mentioned before. The three authors Comfort, Allen and Graham-Smith are from the University of Salford, Manchester, from the Directorate of Sport, Exercise, and Physiotherapy. Being sports biomechanics experts and professors in the field, they have high credibility in writing their article. The article was published in the Journal of strength and conditioning research and approved by the national strength and conditioning association in May 2011. In the journal, one can find it in volume 25, number five. The researchers have also published various articles in other high-quality journals, including the applied biomechanics and sports medicine journals. As such, they have vast knowledge in the field of sports when it comes to training and exercise programs, and thus, they are aware of the flaws that can be associated with their study.

In the study, the authors wrote in a professional manner, taking into account of the mechanical, physical, and mathematical contexts of exercising, and have cited numerous articles that show the importance of achieving the greatest rate of force development (RFD), as used to achieve the maximal power during exercises (Bevan et al., 2007; Hori et al., 2008; Kawamori et al., 2006; Cormie et al., 2011; Cormie, Deane & McBride, 2007; Kilduff et al., 2007; Cormie, et al., 2007). It acknowledges the limitation of previous research which had not accounted for force characteristics of the power clean and its variations. Therefore, the study was a unique one as the authors identified gaps from the pre-existing literature and through this study, they would bridge this gaps.

The authors were thorough in the articles abstract and title. For instance, the title is very clear, and a reader gets the aim of the study in an instant. The abstract clearly summarized the study, and also articulated the major findings and study aims. As such, it concisely summarizes Comfort, Allen and Graham Smiths (2011) study. The introduction gave an important background about the general study. It covered power clean aspects of previous literature, as well as providing the necessary gaps. In addition, a discussion and the practical applications section clearly articulated the studys conclusions. The study design covered all aspects needed in testing the hypothesis that mid-thigh variations would result in higher of instantaneous RFD and peak Fz basing this on previous literature which articulated that the second pool phase of the power clean resulted in the greatest of Fz. However, having only used rugby players who were trained on how to use the weights, it appears that the study was limited as they did not use other sports that were mentioned in the first paragraph.

It follows that the study has strengths and weaknesses. Their investigation of the hypothesis covered crucial study requirements which are required in experimental research methods, such as a description of the study participants, materials, instrumentation, and description of statistical analysis (Ross & Morrison, 1996). The authors have covered these areas thoroughly in the study. In essence, as Ross and Morrison (1996) assert, researchers use statistical significance to determine the importance of study findings. In simple terms, if the experimental groups mean of 85% on the post-test was found to be significantly higher (say, at p < .01) than the control groups mean of 80%, then the effect was regarded as having theoretical or practical value (Ross & Morrison, 1996, p1030). As such, if the studys results were not significant, or in practical means, the null hypothesis could not be rejected, the effect should be dismissed as not relevant or reliable.

Considering this assertion, and as per the study, the hypothesis was reinstated by the results, as statistical results revealed a greater peak Fz (p<0.001), in the mid-thigh power clean (2,801.7 195.4 N), and the mid-thigh clean pull (2,880.2 236.2 N) in comparison to the hang power clean (2,442.9 293.2 N) and the power clean (2,306.24 240.47 N). In addition, the mid-thigh power clean (14,655.8 4,535.1 N.s-1) and the mid-thigh clean pull (15,320.6 3,533.3 N.s-1) indicated a significantly greater instantaneous RFD (p<0.001) compared to both the power clean (8,839.7 2,940.4 N.s-1), as well as the hang power clean (9,768.9 4,012.4 N.s-1).

As such, this confirmed the hypothesis, and thus, they satisfied the statistical significance as postulated by Ross and Morrison (1996). In addition, the statistical analysis increased the accuracy of the research. As such, the authors, Comfort et al. (2011) demonstrated that the results section were properly analysed via statistical means, using the 1-way analysis of variance and Bonferroni post hoc analysis. By satisfying the requirements of the experimental research methods, the results were conclusive, and hence, regarding the results presentation and analysis, they did not compromise the credibility and reliability of results

The study was conducted within the specifications of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Comfort et al. (2011) stated that the IRB approved their investigation, as well as the partakers had provided informed consent before they participated. By doing so, they acknowledged that they did the research on ethical grounds and the participants were not exploited, which is a primary concern that should be met in conducting research involving human subjects (Grady, 2015). For this reason, having followed that criteria, the potential benefit for the research would be enormous compared to the risks (Grady, 2015; Klitzman, 2013); therefore, the study was justifiable and its importance in the sports sector, as reviewed by the IRB was considered as highly beneficial.

In addition, another strength that was noted in the study is the fact that the study was conducted using universally recognized equipment. For instance, the lifts were performed having the subjects stand on a force plate (Kistler, Model 9286AA, SN 1209740), and were sampled at 1,000 Hz, while being interfaced with a laptop. In addition, the data was analysed using Bio ware (Version 3.22; Kistler Instrument Corporation), which determined the peak vertical ground reaction force. For this reason, having mentioned these instruments, the authors acknowledged that the data and the experimentation process was straightforward, and in any instance, if another researcher conducted experiment, then similar results would be obtained. It was in line with Ross and Morrison (1996) study, where an experimental study design should document the equipment used in obtaining results. Also, they used biomechanical terms in the study, including a description of what the power clean variations were. They included three photographs of the different variations for better understanding of the power clean variations used.

Also, in their study, Comfort, Allen and Graham Smiths (2011) stated the parameters for conducting the experiment. They made it clear that the participants were randomly assigned in performing 1 cluster set of three repetitions, which involved a 30-second rest between repetitions mainly for maximizing fatigue of each exercise when conducting the four variations of the power clean. In addition, they stipulated that the instantaneous RFD was obtained by dividing the change in consecutive vertical force readings by the time interval used, which was 0.001 seconds. These aspects were charted in an RFD against the power clean variations. In essence, the charts provided a clarity of the results.

However, various weaknesses can be noted. For instance, despite the abstract being a summary of the article, which the authors clearly summarized, did not state the research design they used, leaving the reader to speculate. There are two study designs that can be used in conducting research, the qualitative and quantitative research designs (Venkatesh, Brown & Bala, 2013). According to Venkatesh et al (2013), a qualitative research is mainly an exploratory research used to understand underlying opinions, intents, and reasons and capitalizes on semi-structured or unstructured techniques. The quantitative research, as the authors posit, quantifies a problem through the generation of numerical data or the data can also be transformed into usable statistics. From th...

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