Polytech first to trial smaller GPS

Mat Blair with the new GPS unit (left) compared to the old one (right). Photo: Peter McIntosh.
Mat Blair with the new GPS unit (left) compared to the old one (right). Photo: Peter McIntosh.
A device soon to be worn all over the world has been launched in Dunedin.

The world’s first GPS unit which meets World Rugby’s new criteria for matchplay was unveiled at Otago Polytechnic’s High Performance Rugby Union Workshop this week. The new criteria, which becomes mandatory from December 31 this year,  requires GPS devices worn by players to fit into smaller specifications.

That was intended to reduce the risk of injury from wearing them, although there had not been any incidents recorded from the present ones.

The GPSports new EVO model is the first to be produced.

A relationship between the company and Otago Polytechnic senior lecturer Matthew Blair provided the polytechnic with the units to trial.That made it the first institution in the world to have access to them.

It had been able to trial them on its students, something that was significant.

"It’s good exposure for us," Blair, who is also an elite strength and conditioning coach, said.

"It means we’re working hard to get good quality products in front of our students that are current, that makes them work-ready. That’s important."

He said that while safety had been the main reason behind the new units, they came with an upgrade in functionality too.‘‘These units are reported to be more accurate than previous ones.

"Over the years each release has been more accurate, which makes especially the high speed acceleration and deceleration data more reliable, more accurate.

"They’re smaller, so they’re less invasive to the player. There’s lower awareness that they’re there."

GPS systems were used widely on individuals in team sports worldwide, both in games and trainings.

Blair said they were an important part of strength and conditioning training.

Their main benefits came in being easily portable and providing accurate metrics as to what athletes were doing on the field.

Those came in everything from distance covered, to speed, to acceleration, to work load.

That enabled coaches to get a better understanding of what was happening, rather than just relying on what they thought was happening.

However it was important to look beyond the statistics and get practical use out of them.

That could mean things such as adjusting trainings to go harder or easier based on the numbers to better prepare the players.

To do that it was important to look at the numbers over an extended period of time to notice trends.

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