Sports Science

GPS Technology in the NFL

How can coaches insure the safety of their players while maintaining the most optimal and energetic line up? That’s where GPS technology comes in.

Ask any athlete to come out of a big game to get a quick break and jump back in and you wont hear the end of it, as demonstrated by Chris Paul during a timeout in his early career. Athletes are extremely competitive individuals that want to use every ounce of energy they’ve got. If it were up to them, they would play the whole game. Just look at the 1997 NBA finals, when Michael Jordan, playing with a stomach virus from food poisoning, put up one of his most memorable performances dropping 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. He had to be carried off the court by Scottie Pippen at the end of the game because he was extremely dehydrated and had no energy left. Putting everything on the line is a core trait of every great athlete. So how can coaches insure the safety of their players while maintaining the most optimal and energetic line up? That’s where GPS technology comes in.

GPS Technology

Catapult Sports, which is one of many Australian based companies that compile live data on athletic exertion, have already had their technology adopted in professional rugby games in Australia and in hundreds of other sports leagues. Their technology tracks player movements, heart rate levels, player exertion, and conditioning levels which is recorded by a GPS machine embedded into player jerseys. The technology gives coaches hard data on which players are tired, which players have a ton of energy, and who is at risk of experiencing a serious injury. The mission behind the technology is to prevent injuries and ensure that the most optimal players are on the field at a given time to ensure that games are decided less by subjective coaching decisions and more on the execution of game plans and strategies.

Value to the NFL

Tracking GPS technology can help improve the quality of any sporting event, especially games played in the National Football League. “Tracking devices measure player movement during training, practice, and games, compiling data on running speed, the force of collisions, friction created by the playing surface and more. A total “load score” is calculated and compared to individually designed profiles based on the player’s history, giving coaches raw data and context for how much wear the body has absorbed during a day, a week or longer” as written in ESPN. All this does is allows coaches to make objective decisions on when to take a player out of a game, how long to schedule practices, and even when certain players should take a day off.

The GPS technology will help limit injuries while enhancing the quality of play. In my opinion, the adoption of this product is a no brainer. It will contribute to a better viewing experience for the fans, longer playing careers for the players, and more objective results based on heart and determination rather than on guesswork made by coaches.

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