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SPOTLIGHT: GPS Units Making Australian Rules Football Teams Forget About The Gatorade

By | April 9, 2007

      While American professional sports are concerning themselves with performance-enhancers of a different sort, the Australian Football League (AFL) is hoping to expand its use of personal GPS devices to track and analyze in real time the performance of its players.

      According to a report in The Australian newspaper, the AFL is debating whether to lift restrictions on the use of GPS equipment. For the past two seasons, AFL clubs have had access to GPS units, at a cost of $4,000 ($3,275) per, which measure the distance players run, their average speed, the number of accelerations and decelerations and various units of efficiency. The league had restricted their use to five players per team for a total of 10 games per year.

      The new technology, at a cost of $1,000 Australian ($819) per unit per year over three years, would afford teams to monitor and measure information as a match is unfolding. AFL clubs could have up to 22 players tracked by coaches during games.

      The data from these trials, used to varying degrees by the clubs, has helped fitness and conditioning staff design training regimes to replicate game demands and adjust training loads to take account of the work done throughout a season.

      According to GPS Sports Systems, developer of the SPI 10 Sports Performance indicator, the units allow athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike to capture information in real time and record for post-workout review such data as time, position, altitude, maximum speed, average speed, distance travelled, maximum heart rate, and average heart rate.

      Captured information can be reviewed on the unit’s display or downloaded to a computer for a more comprehensive evaluation.

      Comprehensive evaluation of training and sporting performance is provided by the GPSports Athlete Management System. The user can view tabular, graphical and positional representations of their data. Analyze performance during any segment of the event, evaluate the effects speed and distance have upon heart rate. Compare past results and compare athlete to athlete. A wide variety of reports can be generated and all results can be exported over the Internet. Regular updates of the GPSports Analysis software are available to registered users allowing even greater flexibility in the evaluation of current and past performance data.

      Stephen Schwerdt, head fitness coach of the Adelaide Crows, credits the GPSports SPI-10 to allow specific player preparation, improve player substitution, improve coaching for specific positions, enhance and develop strategy, and improve player evaluation.

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