GPS tracking to measure exertion, speed, and to prevent injury

Last year I pointed out some interesting uses of GPS tracking to monitor multiple data points on players.  Read more here.

It seems that this technology is catching on in college and pro football.  The Florida State Seminoles used this during their National Championship season.  As coaches, we are constantly trying to find the balance between working a team to get the most ut of the, and keeping them fresh for game day.

David Hale writes in an article on,

Little changes in the practice routine can have massive effects on the bottom line of player health, Villora said.  Running laps used to be punishment for poor performance, but now Florida State’s staff understood that extra work was just as likely to create more problems the next day.

Of course the flip side is true, too.  As much as players are eager to see the results of sprints at practice, the GOS device can quickly expose those who are slacking.  Viloria gets the data in real time and lets coaches know when it’s time to crack the whip.  

The potential for this is huge.  Of course, something like this will have to be scalable so that it becomes affordable on lower levels.  FSU paid $25,000 to rent the equipment last season from Catapult, the company who created it.

For schools that can afford this technology though, the potential is enormous. Catapult sports scientist Gary McCoy said of FSU, “It’s their secret sauce.  If they continue to scout well and they continue to use this model, they’re going to build a dynasty out of this.  There’s no question.”

The Machine Knows

Of course, with all technology, learning how to use the equipment and data is important as well.  Without proper monitoring and analysis, the data is useless.

Jimbo Fischer used the data to be able to lighten up Rashad’s Greene’s practice to get more consistent performance on game day.  Think about how many hours you’ve spent over the years trying to figure out whether a player is dogging it or not during practice.  This technology takes the uncertainty away.

The article goes on to point out that Catapult is working on a formula to identify concussions as well.  It seems that the game is under attack, especially in terms of how concussions were handled in the past.  Several class action law suits seem to be taking shape from former players. Something like this can really help save the game.  This goes well beyond the “Junction Boys” days where players were physically demanded to put their bodies through torture to become champions.  Now there is a measurable way to monitor and maximize performance.  It will be interesting to see how this catches on at all levels.  In the mean time, there is a lot to be learned about monitoring performance, doling out physical punishment for perceived lack of effort, and pushing teams and players beyond their physical limits to their detriment.

Here are some articles that highlight and explain this technology:

FSU Rides Technology to Title

FSU Football Team Uses GPS Technology to Prevent Player Injuries

FSU’s championship season fueled by GPS technology

Packers adopting GPS technology to research injuries

GPS guides Packers toward better injury prevention

FSU, Packers favor GPS-based data generator

NFL to use tracking devices during games, practices

GPS Tracking Takes Football Practice to New Level

Here are companies that produce this technology:

Thought for future use of GPS tracking on the football field

Now I would like to take this a step further and think about how the technology might be used to provide feedback on execution of a particular play in order to use the data to improve the scripted performance needed on that particular play.  Could the technology be used on the field to give a coach instant feedback on what the player did on a particular play?  Did the receiver cut his route two steps short?  Did a defensive back open incorrectly and take a bad angle?  Did the quarterback not  get deep enough into the pocket causing a problem in protection.  Being able to monitor and get real time feedback on performance specific to an expected physical movement on the field  while also measuring physical effort really produces a useful coaching tool.  I’m sure that that type of technology can’t be too far off.

Please check out my iBooks.  These present an innovative way to learn the game.    101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays and The Zone Running Game:  Create a Structured System. Both resources are filled with detailed information, interactive presentations, and game film.






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