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Global Positioning System Data Analysis: Velocity Ranges and a New Definition of Sprinting for Field Sport Athletes

Dwyer, Dan B1,2; Gabbett, Tim J3,4

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - pp 818-824
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182276555

Dwyer, DB and Gabbett, TJ. Global positioning system data analysis: Velocity ranges and a new definition of sprinting for field sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res 26(3): 818–824, 2012—Global positioning system (GPS) technology has improved the speed, accuracy, and ease of time-motion analyses of field sport athletes. The large volume of numerical data generated by GPS technology is usually summarized by reporting the distance traveled and time spent in various locomotor categories (e.g., walking, jogging, and running). There are a variety of definitions used in the literature to represent these categories, which makes it nearly impossible to compare findings among studies. The purpose of this work was to propose standard definitions (velocity ranges) that were determined by an objective analysis of time-motion data. In addition, we discuss the limitations of the existing definition of a sprint and present a new definition of sprinting for field sport athletes. Twenty-five GPS data files collected from 5 different sports (men's and women's field hockey, men's and women's soccer, and Australian Rules Football) were analyzed to identify the average velocity distribution. A curve fitting process was then used to determine the optimal placement of 4 Gaussian curves representing the typical locomotor categories. Based on the findings of these analyses, we make recommendations about sport-specific velocity ranges to be used in future time-motion studies of field sport athletes. We also suggest that a sprint be defined as any movement that reaches or exceeds the sprint threshold velocity for at least 1 second and any movement with an acceleration that occurs within the highest 5% of accelerations found in the corresponding velocity range. From a practical perspective, these analyses provide conditioning coaches with information on the high-intensity sprinting demands of field sport athletes, while also providing a novel method of capturing maximal effort, short-duration sprints.

1University of Newcastle, Environmental and Life Sciences, Ourimbah, Australia; and 2Victorian Institute of Sport, Melbourne, Australia; and 3School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia; and 4School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Address correspondence to Dan B. Dwyer,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association