ForceDecks: A Short History

ForceDecks is the brainchild of sports scientist Dr Daniel Cohen and biomechanist Dr Phil Graham-Smith, two pioneers of dual-force platform testing with over 40 years of combined experience working with elite sports teams.

ForceDecks' story began in 2002 at Manchester United, where Drs Cohen and Graham-Smith were implementing force-platform testing during pre-season as part of a research project. While the data collection process was efficient, the manual data analysis was so time-consuming that by the time it was in the hands of the medical team its value was significantly diminished. Drs Cohen and Graham-Smith knew that force platform neuromuscular profiling was of significant value, but until the data processing was streamlined and instantaneous – allowing it to inform practice and decision-making immediately – they believed it could never be adopted in elite sports environments.

While concentrating on their individual academic careers, Drs Cohen and Graham-Smith continued to develop force-testing protocols and algorithms to evaluate healthy and rehabilitating athletes on force platforms, developing alternative software that interpreted the data faster and in more accessible way. Separately, they were also pioneering dual-platform counter-movement jump testing, where athletes are tested with one foot on each platform; this generated information on bilateral performance and revealed patterns of force production and load distribution highly relevant to athlete rehabilitation.

In 2012, Drs Cohen and Graham-Smith met at the London Olympics and agreed to join forces to develop ForceDecks software that linked with PASCO force platforms and offer it as a commercial product. Subsequently, following interest from the English Institute of Sport in a more robust platform that could cope with the demands of testing a range of athletes including Olympic weightlifters, the ForceDecks FD4000 dual-platform hardware was developed.  

The FD4000 platform – a 6,000kg overload fit-for-purpose system – was made available for elite sports organisations with accompanying ForceDecks software from January 2015.

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About Dr Daniel Cohen

Dr Daniel Cohen is a sports scientist who specialises in neuromuscular performance research in relation to injury risk screening and reduction. Over the course of 20 years he has worked with numerous major sports organisations – including Manchester United, Arsenal and the Colombian Institute of Sport – in the area force-platform testing for performance profiling, fatigue monitoring and injury-risk screening. 

Dr Cohen currently works as a lecturer and researcher in sports science at the University of Santander in Colombia, and in strength and power assessment at the Coldeportes High Performance Center. 

He is a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and has authored over 40 articles in international peer-review sports science journals.

About Dr Phil Graham-Smith

Dr Phil Graham-Smith is a sports biomechanics expert who has worked with various Olympic athletes to perfect their sprinting and jumping techniques. He has around 25 years applied experience providing biomechanical support to UK Athletics and professional football and rugby clubs. 

In addition to his academic career at Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Salford, Dr Graham-Smith has also been the consultant Head of Biomechanics at the English Institute of Sport. He is currently the Head of Biomechanics at the Aspire Academy of Sporting Excellence in Doha, Qatar.

He is a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), a Fellow of BASES (the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences) and a Level 5 ISPAS (International Society of Performance Analysis of Sport) Performance Analyst.