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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 14;9(4):e93693. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093693. eCollection 2014.

Rapid directional change degrades GPS distance measurement validity during intermittent intensity running.

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Exercise Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Sport and Exercise Science, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.


Use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for quantifying athletic performance is common in many team sports. The effect of running velocity on measurement validity is well established, but the influence of rapid directional change is not well understood in team sport applications. This effect was systematically evaluated using multidirectional and curvilinear adaptations of a validated soccer simulation protocol that maintained identical velocity profiles. Team sport athletes completed 90 min trials of the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle-running Test movement pattern on curvilinear, and multidirectional shuttle running tracks while wearing a 5 Hz (with interpolated 15 Hz output) GPS device. Reference total distance (13 200 m) was systematically over- and underestimated during curvilinear (2.61±0.80%) and shuttle (-3.17±2.46%) trials, respectively. Within-epoch measurement uncertainty dispersion was widest during the shuttle trial, particularly during the jog and run phases. Relative measurement reliability was excellent during both trials (Curvilinear r = 1.00, slope = 1.03, ICC = 1.00; Shuttle r = 0.99, slope = 0.97, ICC = 0.99). Absolute measurement reliability was superior during the curvilinear trial (Curvilinear SEM = 0 m, CV = 2.16%, LOA ± 223 m; Shuttle SEM = 119 m, CV = 2.44%, LOA ± 453 m). Rapid directional change degrades the accuracy and absolute reliability of GPS distance measurement, and caution is recommended when using GPS to quantify rapid multidirectional movement patterns.

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