GPS Tracking for Amateur Sport- What is the Bottom Line?
Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking is all the rage at a professional sporting level. Recent advances in both technology and people’s way of thinking has seen the advent of data that is both accessible for spectators and useful for clubs. As an industry the sports technology sector is moving at a rapid pace, just the other week IBM and Alibaba announced they would be live streaming 3D athlete tracking for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (link). The widely held view is that this is only the start of a significant revolution in sport that really, we are only beginning to understand.
Typically, there is a waterfall effect for technology (software & hardware), concepts and thinking from the professional/elite level of sport down in to the sub-elite and in turn amateur sport. Over the last 3 or so years we have seen that trickle-down effect become evident when it comes to GPS tracking hardware and software. GPS tracking hardware and software that was once reserved for big budget sporting clubs, institutes and colleges is now more accessible than ever. Sports Performance Tracking (SPT) specialise in designing and delivering simple to use, powerful and affordable GPS tracking solutions for sub-elite and amateur sporting clubs.
If you are considering an investment in GPS athlete tracking technology but are still unsure as to why, this blog post will paint the benefits through a different light. Implementing the SPT system not only has measurable on-field performance benefits, but it also has more subtle financial benefits. Below I am going to touch on my main thoughts as to why administrators would consider investing in to platforms such as that offered by SPT.
Spectators through gates to see your best athletes:
Tailored prescription and planning of your training week is key to ensuring athletes are exposed to appropriate levels of loading both during the pre-season and in-season. When coaches have objective data at their disposal it removes the need to “guess” how much or how little. With GPS tracking we now know how many high-speed running meters athletes are completing each week and we can see that over time we have progressed their loads in a safe manner. The SPT system also outputs several other metrics that can be built in to an easy to use training monitoring system and are directly related to injury prevention. These metrics include Sprint Efforts, Top Speed, Work-Rate and 2D Load. Integrating a system such as this in to your athletes training environment will in turn reduce the likelihood of injuries to athletes on your squad. The flow on effect to this is we increase our chances of having our best squad/athlete on the track and driving fan engagement on the weekend. Key revenue drivers for a large number of amateur clubs is ticket/gate sales, food/beverage sales and merchandise sales.
Naturally the effect of increased athlete availability (and hopefully winning) is team promotion up through divisions. It must be said that there is no guarantee that having your best athletes’ available week in week out will ensure wins, but it sure does give you every chance. Team success in the amateur sporting space can often lead to other opportunities for clubs, such as key sponsorship deals and long-term player sponsors.
Retention of talent:
These days even at an amateur level, athletes expect a certain level of service. Coaches and administrators go to great lengths to ensure athletes are afforded an environment that encourages engagement and enjoyment. SPT GPS technology has been designed in a way that individual athletes own their data and in turn can view the data of their team mates. Once coaches have uploaded data, athlete’s login to the GameTraka app and view feedback. The system acts as a simple mechanism to deliver an increased level of services to your athletes. For a small initial investment coaches can now add a layer to the development of their athletes, and this will in turn encourage the long term buy in of their squad.
Decreasing Non-Contact Injury Likelihood and Decreasing Burden on Medical Staff:
Naturally, there are going to be instances where an athlete suffers an injury (short and long term). No matter how hard you try and no matter how (great) robust your training system is, injuries are an inevitable part of sport. When (not if) this occurs, the effective use of an external load monitoring system can ensure a safe and optimal return to performance for the injured athlete. What I mean by this is, a system that tracks total work load will allow you to plan for linear progression (session by session/week by week) of metrics such as Hard Running and Sprint Efforts. Being able to plan for and measure key variables that we know help protect athlete from injury and aid in performance will provide practitioners with key insights to decrease the likelihood and severity of injuries when they occur.
These tools can be a key part of a support staff (S&C, Physio & Trainers) system that will eliminate the need for the club Physio to micro-manage individual athlete training loads and progressions. With a simple to access database on hand the time that can be saved and burden lifted off medical personnel’s plates is immeasurable.
Author: Ben Sharpe
Ben specialises in the development and implantation of holistic athletic development programs with a specific focus on athlete preparation and staff education and assists a wide range of clients implement external load monitoring and sports science departments.