Rugby Athletes Train with GPS

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Though the term “Global Positioning Satellite” might not immediately bring to mind the strenuous and intense exercise regimen of professional athletes, some analysts are finding GPS tracking devices to be useful in their work to help athletes in their training.

The sportsmen and women of England’s rugby sevens team lead the way in using GPS during training. These sportspersons are pushing themselves in highly innovative and creative ways while on the training field. From actigraphy watches to the aforementioned GPS tracking devices, England’s rugby sevens team is giving it all it’s got.

The men’s and women’s sevens team members challenge themselves from the moment they awaken right through to their sleep schedule. They power through standard workout routines in their multi-purpose gym, run down their typical practice drills, and sometimes try a little parachute running for good measure. Actigraphy watches are worn during rest cycles by each athlete. Data collected from these watches is monitored by analysts, who keep a keen eye out for signs of possibly developing injury or illness.

But perhaps, above the admirable intensity of these players’ determination to excel in their game, most interesting to readers here is the utilization of GPS tracking devices within the training exercises and routines of this rugby sevens team.

GPS tracking devices contained in computer chips are attached to players’ shirts during practice. These chips collect thousands of slow motion photographs taken by the GPS system while the team members are at play. Coaches and analysts take the collected data and examine players’ habits of defense, offence, and communication with teammates while on the field.

Communication is top priority during these practices. GoPro cameras and microphones are distributed among players and coaches during practice. “Marginal gains” are what coaches look for during training as they and the analysts work right alongside players. They observe and scrutinize techniques of passing, kicking, scanning for defense and attack through the photo feed received by the GPS tracking devices.

By using the technology of these GPS tracking devices, this rugby sevens team is able to analyze their playing power in ways of which athletes of the past could only dream. Every “marginal gain” matters when the scrutiny level goes this deep. Those marginal gains add up, and gaining an edge in their game is what these players and coaches are all about.

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A.C. Arens

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