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Aussies Consider GPS for Tracking Footballs — Is NFL Next?

EELINK 2018-06-30

An Australian company is proposing putting GPS tracking devices in footballs as early as 2015, according to a report by News Corp Australia. Both the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Australian Football League (AFL) are considering using the trackers in footballs as early as next year. The AFL and several National Football League (NFL) teams in the United States already use trackers for player monitoring.

The battery-operated devices, the size of a 10-cent coin, are made by Melbourne-based company Catapult. The devices have the capacity to influence score decisions and analytics, Catapult said. They can track the ball’s speed and time held in possession by a player, and help provide deeper analysis of the game. Spectators also would get a glimpse, with more details of the game made available to them.

Catapult already manufactures and sells GPS devices worn by players in various sports including the AFL, and also makes indoor stadium tracking systems for athletes and elite sports teams. The NRL is aware of the technology, but has not yet decided to implement it.

For the current football season, this year the NFL began using RFID chips for in-game player tracking at 17 stadiums, just over half. The RFID chips, manufactured by MotionWorks, allow the NFL to measure player orientation and capture location information, which is then shared with fans. The data is also used by broadcasters to show plays.

A quarter of NFL teams and 10 major U.S. college programs are using GPS trackers, mostly for training and injury prevention.

“The number one goal of this system right now is trying to help prevent injury as well as help us with the rehab process. There are a lot of different things that goes in to it, but the biggest thing is ‘how can we monitor guys on the field to help us get the information’?” said Eric Ciano, strength and conditioning coordinator of the Buffalo Bills.

“I think us being able to manage practice and how we do it with the GPS system, how we train with that thing year-round, [has] allowed us to take a lot of the guesswork out of how tired your team is, where your pulls, your tears are,” said Jimbo Fisher, head coach of Florida State University football. “Our soft tissue injuries are down 88 percent in the last two years because we’ve been able to apply that. And we use it full-time to gain that information. It’s on my desk, the first thing when we walk in every day.”




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