Player demands using GPS in AFL players

Posted on February 9, 2010

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For the last couple of years I have been fortunate to work with Ben Wisbey at FitSense Australia. Among other things I have worked on data analysis, interpreting and writing up the AFL GPS report.

Since 2005 The Australian Football League (AFL) has commissioned FitSense to collect player GPS data and write the report to track changes in player requirements. To borrow from part of this year’s report:

In 2009, both playing intensity and total distance increased compared to all previous years, even allowing for changes in the sampling rate of GPS devices. The increased physical demand was largely a result of longer playing durations per game. Similar to 2008, the comparison of data collected on different commercially-available brands of GPS devices showed similar work rates but some differences in the number of accelerations and surges. Those players who were rotated more often were able to maintain a higher game intensity, with short frequent on-field bursts proving most effective.

Contrary to 2008, team-based success throughout the Season did not have a significant relationship with a team‟s work rate – there is some evidence to suggest that the most successful teams worked less hard. This finding may have important implications for recovery and injury rates.

Further technological developments are ushering in an exciting new era for GPS use in the future, with software now allowing a players position relative to the ball to be monitored.

You can read the full report here (PDF 700kB). Ben has also written a blog on The Running Demands of Team Sports. I do think GPS analysis has a way to go before its usefullness is optimised. If you read the report make sure you have a look at the Future Directions, this is where it is really starting to get exciting.

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