A GPS tracker that hockey players can use to assess their performance is a major development for semi-professional and amateur teams.
Performance data is gathered from the tracker worn in a vest and it allows coaches to learn the fitness, stamina and tactical positioning of every player.
In this guide to using GPS trackers for your hockey teams, we’ll dive into:
- How do GPS trackers work for hockey?
- What performance metrics do GPS trackers collect
- How to interpret player performance?
Whether it’s how far your centre-forward ran during the semi-final or the return to fitness of your star goalkeeper, key performance data is nearer than you think.
How do GPS trackers work for hockey?
Global Positioning System (GPS) is used in all walks of life from maps in our cars to fitness watches.
GPS technology can pinpoint our current location exactly and also track our movement.
Its use in team sports like hockey takes things a step further and with far greater accuracy than consumer wearable gadgets.
It begins with a GPS tracker, a small device that collects core metrics that can be reviewed later on a mobile device or computer.
Our PitcheroGPS tracker is only 37g, with a 100Hz accelerometer to ensure it logs all movements. It can be charged in 30 minutes and includes unlimited storage as well as being water-resistant.
Hockey players wear a GPS vest that has the GPS tracker housed in it. It sits between the shoulder blades and doesn’t affect movement.
The vest is lightweight and fits the body snugly to keep the tracker in place during high-intensity activity.
The tracker records player data that can be stored for analysis after exercise.
What performance metrics do GPS trackers collect?
With PitcheroGPS, hockey teams can gather personalised data on every player to understand how they perform and where improvements can be made.
The data accuracy has been scientifically tested to guarantee its pinpoint precision.
Player performance metrics include:
- Total distance covered
- Total active time
- Top speed
- High speed running
- Positioning Heatmaps
Finding out the number of metres or kilometres a hockey player moves in a training session or match is useful in many ways.
In order to boost team performance, you need to take a benchmark first of what your hockey squads are capable of at a moment in time, usually pre-season.
Once you have that training data, assessing the total distance players travel will highlight stamina, fatigue levels and effort in sessions.
On its own, recording distance can be used to build match fitness so your team finishes strong up until the last minute.
But, used in conjunction with the other real-time data that PitcheroGPS collects, it builds a picture of a player’s capabilities and how they train and perform in matches week-to-week.
Judging fitness levels is just one use for this GPS metric; it can be used to adapt training sessions too.
If certain players need to have lighter sessions, coaches possess all of the information they need to make those adjustments.
Total Active Time
Tracking ‘total active time’ with GPS trackers will show the duration of exercise. Of course, being active on its own is not enough for your hockey squad’s ambitions.
However, its use comes with balancing the training load for players and for coaches to view historic data and assess what individuals or the group need in future.
Has your centre forward been training too much? Does your right back need to build up gradually after an injury?
Recording top speed is another invaluable GPS metric in the push to improve performance.
Who are the quickest players in your hockey team? A GPS track can settle that debate - but also encourages competition within squads.
Those clubs using PitcheroGPS relish finding out their GPS stats and how they compare with other players.
It pushes them to improve performance for themselves but also to be faster (or fitter) than team-mates.
Apart from self-improvement, there could be tactical implications. Are your fastest players in their best positions? What about using that speed to your advantage with certain set-plays or scenarios?
High speed running
High-speed running is an asset in any sport. It demonstrates what intensity of exercise your hockey players achieve in a training session or a game.
With PitcheroGPS, you can view types of physical activity: standing, walking, jogging or sprinting and the amount of time on doing each.
Speed workouts not only help you become faster over time, they build a player’s ability to run further through increasing aerobic capacity.
Hockey coaches can set up custom speed zones for their team to establish targets and benchmark them over time.
In the PitcheroGPS web app, you can set:
- The name of each speed zone
- The values of each banding (you can create up to 8 bandings)
This gives a deeper insight into the levels of intensity and for how long. Sprints or high speed running can be part of a wider programme of conditioning.
Accelerations / decelerations
Using a GPS tracking device to make informed decisions about speed isn’t just how fast or far you run.
Accelerations / decelerations i.e.) speeding up and slowing down - is just as valid.
Whether defending a corner or sprinting into the 16-yard area to take a shot, that explosion of power in the first few seconds matter.
Once you have a clearer picture of how a winger, centre-half or right-back accelerates (or decelerates) then this can be worked on in practice.
Hockey is a very stop-start sport with penalty corners, restarts and pushbacks.
Speed from a standing start and being agile enough to change direction are ways an individual player can gain an advantage repeatedly over the duration of a game.
Accelerations and decelerations can also be taken into account when tracking player fatigue and injury risk.
In hockey, being able to see where your players physically are during a training session or a match is useful.
It’s a way to make sure tactics and gameplans are being followed - or moves are being executed as they should be.
The heatmaps are a clear visual aid going from dark red for a higher concentration of time in a certain area to green with less or no time.
It’s another example of where wearing a GPS vest for hockey can gain a competitive edge over rivals. How does your team react offensively or defensively?
The GPS tracker can even tie in with heart rate data and video analysis to form a complete picture.
Whether a player is going through the rehabilitation process or hockey teams are striving to keep themselves fit for more games, GPS can play its part.
The degree to which you get very technical with GPS data depends on what outcomes you want.
But what’s clear to see is that by knowing much training each player does - and what that consists of - you can reduce injury risk.
‘Training load’ is a term that encompasses how much exercise a player does and how strenuous that was.
Research into injury prevention concluded that injuries can happen when the training load is significantly higher suddenly rather than as part of a graduated programme.
Injuries occur for all kinds of reasons, including freak accidents like being hit by a hockey ball or a slip, but many are directly linked to the volume of exercise and how that is managed.
How PitcheroGPS can support your hockey team
Clubs across sports, like Cambridge RFU, are using PitcheroGPS to dig into personalised data, improve player welfare and increase their competitive edge.
Carrick Blake, Head Analyst at Cambridge RUFC, said: ‘The PitcheroGPS app and all the processes that are built-in already are fantastic. It encourages competition and we’re a competitive bunch as a high-flying team. If they’re competing over high speeds then we’re doing our job right.’
The PitcheroGPS Team Bundle includes:
- 20 x GPS Player Trackers
- 20 x Player Vests
- 1 x Coach Tablet
- 1 x Charging Case
- 1 x 2-yr Software Subscription
Request Your PitcheroGPS Demo
Just get in touch if your club, academy, school or university wants to have a demo of PitcheroGPS and all of its features.