A Comparison of Time–Motion Analysis Methods for Field-Based Sports

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To assess the validity of a digitizing time–motion-analysis method for field-based sports and compare this with a notational-analysis method using rugby-union match play.


Five calibrated video cameras were located around a rugby pitch, and 1 subject completed prescribed movements within each camera’s view. Running speeds were measured using photocell timing gates. Two experienced operators digitized video data (operator 1 on 2 occasions) to allow 2-dimensional reconstruction of the prescribed movements.


Accuracy for total distance calculated was within 2.1% of the measured distance. For intraoperator and interoperator reliability, calculated distances were within 0.5% and 0.9%, respectively. Calculated speed was within 8.0% of measured photocell speed with intraoperator and interoperator reliability of 3.4% and 6.0%, respectively. For the method comparison, two 20-minute periods of rugby match play were analyzed for 5 players using the digitizing method and a notational time–motion method. For the 20-minute periods, overall mean absolute differences between methods for percentage time spent and distances covered performing different activities were 3.5% and 198.1 ± 138.1 m, respectively. Total number of changes in activity per 20 minutes were 184 ± 24 versus 458 ± 48, and work-to-rest ratios, 10.0%:90.0% and 7.3%:92.7% for notational and digitizing methods, respectively.


The digitizing method is accurate and reliable for gaining detailed information on work profiles of field-sport participants and provides applied researchers richer data output than the conventional notational method.

The authors are with Sport and Exercise Science, School for Health, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY UK. E-mail for correspondence: k.stokes@bath.ac.uk

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