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Practical Applications of GPS in Team Sports

Applications of GPS for team sports - Sports Performance Tracking

If you are a coach, strength and conditioning coach, sports medical staff, or sports scientist, your goals include improving performance, faster recovery & reduction of injury. You want to build and maintain fit, fatigue resistant, robust and resilient athletes.

Today, many sports teams and organisations are turning to GPS technology to help them better understand and monitor the demands of training and competition. Wearable GPS athlete tracking devices such as SPT are becoming a staple of such programs. This GPS technology allows for the tracking of players’ movements (speed, direction, distance, impact) and further breaks down this data into several metrics.

Coaches and sport scientists are using GPS data to better understand game demands, inform practice and conditioning sessions, manage weekly training loads, examine individual player trends and compare players.

There are several practical ways that coaches can use GPS data to inform practice, conditioning, and even game strategy. Here are a few:

  • Perhaps the starting point is understanding the game demands of your sport. There is published information on the GPS-determined activity profile of athletes from field sports; however, this is more extensive for soccer and rugby than American football and lacrosse. Stay tuned for future sport-specific game demand blogs.
  • As GPS data is collected during competitions, coaches can examine trends during the game such as identify periods of most intense play and detecting fatigue. This type of information can inform game strategies and conditioning to prepare players for various demands.
  • Managing the weekly training load by calculating a 3 or 7 day averages or rolling averages, and then…
  • Examining the week-to-week changes across a training period or season, especially when trying to improve the fitness or conditioning of athletes. It has been recommended that rapid spikes of >10-15% from preceding week results in an increased risk of injury.
  • Practice plans can also be created and modified based on the GPS-determined metrics once a drill library is built. For example, using the drill library and GPS data a coach can estimate the volume (total distance), intensity, and impacts of a practice and sequence various drills based on GPS metrics.
  • Another important practical application of using GPS is for injured athletes who are returning to sport. Can the athlete participate in practice at a similar level to before the injury based on GPS metrics and not just the subjective (and often biased) view of the athletes?

So, as we say at SPT – Stop Guessing and Start Measuring. You want your athletes to be in top physical condition, stay injury free and be 100% for game day. GPS technology offers objective data to make better decisions about practice, conditioning, and player health – and ultimately, performance.