The Tracking Device that became Key to Hockey Training | The Tech Race


Welcome to the Tech Race. Every single step
a hockey player takes is important
and will be tracked. Now elite athletes
train and compete under surveillance
to achieve their best. (HOCKEY TRACKING SYSTEM) During a 60-minute
hockey match, players may sprint
at speeds of up to 30km/h, making it nearly impossible to analyse
their explosive movements without the help of technology. We started very basic, a GPS similar
to what’s in a car. As the technology
got a bit more advanced, we very much went
from very linear stuff, like rowing,
like I mentioned before, to very multi-directional
and explosive sport movements, like you see in hockey. Without collecting
this information, we’d be guessing. The biggest thing we can do is we can start
answering questions. I started playing
when I was 12. I can’t imagine
training without it. (UNITED KINGDOM) (BISHAM ABBEY) We visit the British
National Sports Centre in Bisham Abbey. The British female hockey team, gold medallists
at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, no longer train or play
without GPS technology. We had the chance
to see how the device works and what it tracks
during a match. We get the data from matches
such as today and then we can use it
to replicate our training – the high-speed running
with cover, the number of accelerations
and decelerations, and it’s interesting
to see sort of different styles and tactics
we play, how that affects our running and movement. Let’s say, for example, that we make an attack
and then the team counterattack against us. We can see if our players
are sprinting as hard as they can
to get back to get behind the ball,
to win it, to go back again. If we can calculate
how much work they’re doing and characterise a response, we can also say
these players are fitter, for example,
or these are stronger, these have a better diet,
these sleep more. How does that impact or affect how well they recover? The powerful GPS system
works at 10Hz, meaning it samples data
ten times a second, requiring at least
four available satellites. In addition to field hockey, this technology
is used in soccer, basketball, rowing
and ice hockey. 10Hz is ideal
for human movement. The GPS in a car is 1Hz. You turn left too late, cos it only samples
once a second, you do miss some information,
whereas a car travels fast and the GPS struggles
to keep up. The more explosive
the players are, the more changes
of directions they do and the more they work
in small spaces like they do in hockey, the higher the quality
of the GPS has to be to be able to track
those movements. We basically use
two satellite constellations for our GPS fix. We use The American Navstar
constellation and the Russian GLONASS
constellation. The factors involved are how many satellites
you can connect to, the size of the GPS antenna
as well – you can imagine that if you
have a very small GPS antenna, it’s very difficult
to get a good signal. Also the sampling frequency. You mentioned 1Hz versus 10Hz. The GNSS is a satellite
tracking-based system where GPS is still
a vital component, but, thanks to GLONASS,
the Russian satellite system doubles the available
satellites, increasing the accuracy
of the tracking system, also reducing velocity noise
in difficult conditions and works
when there is sky coverage. The heat map shows where each player
has spent most of their time. The arrows indicate a sprint. The velocity graph
shows peak speeds and even heart rate. What the gyroscope
can help us to do is work out which direction
the unit is facing. We might be able to see that
a player makes more movements this direction
than that direction. We can feed that information to our medical team and say, “This player has made
significantly more movements “towards their left
than towards their right. “Has that had an impact
on muscles, “on how their back is,
how their hips are, “or their joints?” Coaches create
a profile of work that needs to be done
on the field in order to find the ideal
player for each position and to succeed in competitions. The fantastic thing
about hockey or team sport is that,
you know, it’s not a race, it’s not an all-out
physiological event. So different people with different
physical characteristics can still make it
to the most elite level. It’s the role of us
as trainers and scientists to try and find the best way
for them to get there. Tracking systems may provide
a big advantage. However, they are dependent
on satellite coverage, a limitation researchers
are trying to overcome. The next step is so-called
local positioning – a technology that provides
positional data via wireless nodes
that serve as satellites, ideal for indoor sports. (THE TECH RACE)

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