How to get the most out of your GPS analysis
Optimising and reporting GPS data can feel like a never-ending task, with thousands of metrics and the need for highly specific reporting, so how on earth do you select the right key performance indicators?
What is the best option for GPS analysis?
Optimising and reporting GPS data can feel like a never-ending task, with thousands of metrics and the need for highly specific reporting, so how on earth do you select the right key performance indicators (KPIs)? If you need to take your GPS monitoring to the next level, episode 76 of the Science for Sport Podcast is essential listening.
In this episode, Mat Pell, applied sport scientist at Catapult Sports, brings amazing insights from the world of American football and explains how these can be used to prepare teams across a range of sports.
Pell starts by explaining the importance of individualising the data and the reporting process. It sounds obvious, but not all athletes can be measured using the same metrics.
First things first – understand your athletes
“Understanding the positional demands is critical,” Pell said.
This makes intuitive sense – a wide receiver will be covering loads of distance at high speeds, but a defensive linemen won’t be very happy if you asked the same of them. These gargantuan humans fight ferociously, with huge impacts, but they do it in a very small space. When we look at how these athletes can be assessed using GPS technology, we are comparing apples and oranges. Or maybe celery and oranges.
This leads Pell down two very different paths – firstly the path of the wide receiver.
“I’ve been really surprised by the capacity that these guys have. When we look at sprinting, it’s sometimes double what you would see in an AFL [Australian Football League] game,” Pell, who boasts an extensive work history in the AFL industry, said.
Here Pell is using running KPIs, which may include total sprints, sprint distance, and high-speed running. By controlling these factors from a physical perspective, the sport science team can reduce the risk of injuries, which may occur when athletes perform too much high-speed work.
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The other path is that of the really really big blokes.
“Your inside guys are just getting bashed and crashed continually,” Pell said.
These athletes aren’t running very much, which means Pell has to find another metric to ensure that they can quantify the training load.
“Our player load KPI is a validated metric – it’s really good, especially in the management of the bigger players. That’s where player load from a volume perspective [comes in], and then going deeper into that with the respective bands, that is really critical,” Pell said.
How GPS data is used within elite teams
It’s easy to see the depth of analysis and attention to detail that goes into training these athletes and managing their load. In this example, it’s not only the player load that is taken into account but the intensity bands within that KPI. This means the load will be split up into bands of increasing intensity, so sport scientists and coaches can see exactly how much work a player performs, and how much of that is at the highest intensities.
“Player load is just one number, and then we can dive into the detail around the planning aspect of that, which is specific towards each position group. And we need to go deep into that as to how we are managing those individual players,” Pell said.
Pell goes on to discuss some of the inner workings of high-performance teams, specifically how teams can best use communication and data to drive more intelligent solutions and programming. The podcast concludes with a rundown of how Pell would organise his team if he was given a perfect world.
So if you want a glimpse behind-the-scenes in elite level American football or want to get some juicy GPS details, hit the link below to download the podcast now!
You can download the podcast on any of the big hosting services, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or just use this link: https://scienceforsport.fireside.fm/76
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