GPS manufacturer says rich and poor clubs can both benefit from sports science

Fox Footy

THE AFL’s largest GPS (global positioning system) provider has allayed fears the latest player tracking technology will widen the gap between rich and poor clubs.

Clubs pay upwards of $40,000 a year to use Catapult’s GPS equipment, helping provide fitness staff and coaches with cutting-edge data on players’ physical status during training and games.

There remains concerns the more wealthy clubs stand to derive a greater advantage over poorer clubs from the increased use of GPS in football.

But Catapult executive chairman Adir Shiffman said Port Adelaide had shown it could become a leader in the use of sports science under high performance chief Darren Burgess, regardless of its financial position.

The Sunday Herald Sun yesterday revealed the Power had become the first AFL club to employ a full-time GPS analyst in their recruiting department.

Shiffman said the willingness of senior club leaders to embrace wearable technology was more important than their balance sheets.

“People talk about clubs that are advantaged because of their financial position, but I don’t think it relates to our technology,”Shiffman said.

“The ability of clubs to derive benefit from our technology — given it is moderately consistently deployed across the AFL — is limited by the quality of their staff and the level of sophistication they have and the buy-in from the senior organisation to what the strength and conditioning guys are doing.

“I don’t think the finances are a material driver of the difference.

“The culture of the club and the degree to which they embrace evidence-based decision-making is a much bigger determinant than who can afford it and who can’t afford it.”

The AFL is considering a league-wide deal with a GPS provider such as Catapult that would help centralise the data and potentially make it available to broadcasters and media organisations.

An agreement would help relieve some or all clubs’ GPS costs and, in part, equalise their use of tracking technology in another effort to help combat the gap between the rich and poor clubs.

Shiffman said the use of GPS within the strength and conditioning departments of AFL clubs was already extremely advanced in comparison with global sporting standards.

“They (AFL clubs) embrace this technology at least as much as any other league in the world,” he said.

“Look at how well Darren Burgess at Port Adelaide has done with his team and their fitness and their safety and health.”