Professional sporting teams competing in field sports, such as AFL, rugby union, rugby league and soccer, have long been using sports performance trackers as a way to monitor player performance.
Now, this once ‘pro only’ performance tool is available to amateur sports players.
At least 50 schools across Australia have embraced this technology and use it both in the classroom and on the field.
Sports Performance Tracking (SPT) Australian Manager Josh Raines said SPT Game Traka units definitely “serve a dual purpose” for schools.
“We’ve had a lot of success with schools, purely because of the practicality of it for the theory classes that they run,” Raines said. “They can take it out in the field and put it into practice and students can log on and check their own results.”
Designed for outdoor team sports, the vest, GPS and Game Traka software comes with a $299 price tag.
“A lot of sports-focused schools buy 15 or 20 units, using them to monitor the performance of the students so they can get a good understanding of how hard they are working.”
The Game Traka software makes data analysis easy. “Users as young as 12 years are logging on, checking their results, and comparing their performance to other students,” Raines said.
How schools are using the SPT Game Traka
“When worn, the GPS device sits between the shoulder blades of a vest, which is worn underneath a jersey,” Raines explained. “You get GPS metrics based on the output of what the student does, and information including distance covered, top speed, speed zones, intensity, and heat maps.”
Hobart’s Guildford Young College Head of Sports Science Brendan Kull has been using the technology for three years for the Year 11 and 12 sports science class, and in the AFL program.
The school recently won an ACHPER (The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation) Award for using the technology to enhance learning.
“I introduced SPT to the school because this is what they are doing at the elite level, and kids are interested in that sort of stuff,” Kull said. “Plus, it’s an engaging teaching tool. Anything to do with technology grabs their attention. They see elite teams using it and they are obviously influenced by that.”
Kull’s students wear the device while playing a game of soccer. “From the data, we look at what percentage of time each of the players are in each of the running zones, their speeds, and intensities. Then we try and relate those intensities to different energy systems, and what energy systems are being utilised and at what time.”
Redlands College Brisbane Director of Sport Malcolm Oosterbeek introduced the technology to PE classes a year ago and has touched on the capabilities of the device and its software.
He uses it during a PE unit that focuses on measuring performance in an AFL game.
“We look at where the players moved and ran their plays, and where they consumed their energy,” Oosterbeek said. “We then reflect upon and make decisions on what needs to change in the gameplay.”
“This technology gives us the analysis of where students are spending most of their time working on the field and what zones they are working in the most,” which, Oosterbeek claimed, is beneficial for engaging the students.
Although Oosterbeek hasn’t used the device for sport competitions as yet, he hopes to use it with touch football later in the year.