Technology

National Football League To Use Tracking Devices

Football Teams Use GPS Tracking

The old saying is that nothing is more valuable than information, and this has certainly become the case in the sports world over the past couple decades. Game video tape, scouting reports and other forms of data are highly valued forms of information because they allow baseball hitters to pick up pitching patterns, basketball players to see where breakdowns in the offensive or defensive scheme occur and hockey players determine where a goalie can be most vulnerable to the slap shot. Of course, these are only a few examples of the many ways information can held a sports team, but you get the point. When it comes to utilizing technology, no sport has been more welcoming than the National Football League (NFL).

The NFL was the first of the three major American sports to call upon video instant replay to help officiating. Today, video replay is now used to confirm scoring drives, turnovers and a variety of in-game plays that referees could call incorrectly. The evolution of video replay is an ongoing process, as the NFL makes every attempt to get the calls on the field correctly. However, with more and more of the narrative of football surrounding player safety, the NFL has once again called upon technology to help them determine player activity in terms of positional and performance data. This data, which will gather player speed, distance traveled on the field and other information will be gathered using GPS tracking devices.

According to digital documents published on the NFL website, the league has mandated that all teams will be required to equip some players with small and non-obtrusive personal tracking systems. The GPS trackers will be the mechanism used to acquire player performance data while the Competition Committee for the league will discuss the most appropriate method on how the data will be analyzed, evaluated and distributed to each one of the 32 organizations that make up the league. The league stated in the August memo that the GPS tracking data gathered from the trackers would not be immediately shared with each football team until that process by the Competition Committee is concluded.

One team that saw early on the advantages of using GPS tracker devices is a team from the AFC East. The Buffalo Bills have been using GPS tracking systems to gather data on player performance  for roughly a year and thus far players have responded well to the satellite technology. One player who was particularly impressed with the tracking devices was C.J. Spiller, a running back expected to be the focal point of the offense this season. Spiller explained to a reporter for his team’s website that the GPS trackers reported distance covered, running speed and explosiveness.

When discussing GPS tracking systems Spiller stated,”[They are] good devices to have.”

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