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J Sci Med Sport. 2006 May;9(1-2):25-32. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

Comparison of global positioning and computer-based tracking systems for measuring player movement distance during Australian football.

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  • 1School of Health Sciences, The University of South Australia, P.O. Box 2471, Adelaide 5001, Australia.


Sports scientists require a thorough understanding of the energy demands of sports and physical activities so that optimal training strategies and game simulations can be constructed. A range of techniques has been used to both directly assess and estimate the physiological and biochemical changes during competition. A fundamental approach to understanding the contribution of the energy systems in physical activity has involved the use of time-motion studies. A number of tools have been used from simple pen and paper methods, the use of video recordings, to sophisticated electronic tracking devices. Depending on the sport, there may be difficulties in using electronic tracking devices because of concerns of player safety. This paper assesses two methods currently used to measure player movement patterns during competition: (1) global positioning technology (GPS) and (2) a computer-based tracking (CBT) system that relies on a calibrated miniaturised playing field and mechanical movements of the tracker. A range of ways was used to determine the validity and reliability of these methods for tracking Australian footballers for distance covered during games. Comparisons were also made between these methods. The results indicate distances measured using CBT overestimated the actual values (measured with a calibrated trundle wheel) by an average of about 5.8%. The GPS system overestimated the actual values by about 4.8%. Distances measured using CBT in experienced hands were as accurate as the GPS technology. Both systems showed relatively small errors in true distances.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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