The Use of GPS Tracking Technology in Australian Football

6 Sep 2012

The Australian Football League (AFL) is using global positioning system (GPS) technology to monitor movement and positioning patterns of the players and the footballs themselves. The purpose is to improve the player’s performance as well as the accuracy of gameplay.

 Aussie’s Junior Football Embracing GPS Tracking Technology

Junior football in Australia is about to get more competitive as league coaches begin incorporating GPS tracking into their games. Based on a recent study conducted at Deakin University in Australia, these GPS tracking devices are being used to determine the player’s activity during games as well as how long they’re on the field, the amount of exertion being used, and how fast they’re running. The study found that 8-year olds were running about 2 kilometers an hour on average, and the fastest players went up to 18 kilometers an hour.

“The key thing about this study is that it is the first time we have ever gathered information like this on kids playing football and the first time we’ve been able to quantify how our kids are experiencing sport. The study is unique and groundbreaking in that we’re getting real data about what kids do when they’re involved in junior football,” said Associate Professor and researcher Pamm Kellett.

The GPS tracking device is placed between the shoulder blades of the player, as it sits inside a tight-fitted vest that is custom-made for each player. This GPS tracker is able to collect a variety of information including the distances run, maps of where the player goes during the game, and their maximum speeds.

“In terms of what a GPS can tell us – it tells us how far kids run, how the impact of zones… the GPS technology is allowing us to see how kids play under those kind of rules,” said Kellett.

 The GPS Tracking “Smartball” Improves Performance and Positioning for the AFL

The Australian Football League is no stranger to using GPS technology, but what is being deemed the “Smartball” is a brand new invention. For years, Australian football players have been using motion censored GPS trackers called accelerometers that will show their coaches how and when the player was at their peak performance. But the Smartball promises to offer much more.

The Smartball is a pill-sized GPS tracking device inserted into the football so that it can track the ball’s movements during the game for improved positioning and more accurate calls. If the ball is underneath a pile of players, the player who had control of the ball is actually determined with the help of GPS technology, as well as who was in control of the football when it went out of bounds. With this innovative technology, coaches are able to review the GPS tracking statistics to determine where the ball was at different times during the game as well as tracking it’s direction, speed and movement in real-time.

With the help of GPS tracking technology, players and coaches in Australian football are able to use the statistics and details of the ball and players for optimum performance. It is now a question of whether or not other countries, such as American football teams, will also be using GPS in their amateur or professional sporting events. For now, Australian football will be benefiting from this innovative technology.

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