Think Uncle Sam has his eye on you? What if you found out your job did? For some professional NFL football players and a few NCAA college teams, turns out it’s not just paranoia.
Many teams using GPS tracking to monitor vitals
From playoffs to practice, GPS technology is being utilized for player safety to prevent overexertion and injury during conditioning, practices, and games. How common is it? Fifteen out of 32 NFL teams and about 30 NCAA football teams are currently putting the technology to the test.
Staying out of the red
By keeping electronic tabs on players, coaches and staff can monitor biomechanical data relayed from a tracking device worn by a player and transferred to a laptop in real time. The data is used to sideline players before they overdo it, avoiding the so-called “red zone” where exhaustion and injury occurs. The technology is essential to keeping players at their peak performance on game days.
How’s it work?
The GPS tracking equipment is used on selected players, collecting data over a period of time so coaches and trainers can establish a baseline and predict when players are wearing down. The 3 ounce monitor slides into a pouch in the back of tight-fitted shirts worn under shoulder pads. The GPS device and sensors measure hundreds of variables per second, transmitting the data to monitoring software on a computer where it is used in an algorithm to determine “player load,” which varies based on the position. The higher the number goes, the greater the exertion.
What can it track?
- Peak running speeds and rates of acceleration.
- Right and left directional changes (and which side was faster).
- Changes in gait (walking/running).
- And more.
Hey! No fair!
Though used extensively in practice, the costly technology has been ruled out of NCAA games due to the competitive advantage it could provide a team against another who does not have access to the technology.
Calling all slackers:
The technology can also be used to tell which players are going all-out – and which ones are simply idling in the periphery. Overall, however, players seem to be happy for the care they are shown because of the technology and the way it can aid in their recovery following an injury.
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