Global positioning system (GPS) technology was made possible after the invention of the atomic clock. The first suggestion that GPS could be used to assess the physical activity of humans followed some 40 y later. There was a rapid uptake of GPS technology, with the literature concentrating on validation studies and the measurement of steady-state movement. The first attempts were made to validate GPS for field sport applications in 2006. While GPS has been validated for applications for team sports, some doubts continue to exist on the appropriateness of GPS for measuring short high-velocity movements. Thus, GPS has been applied extensively in Australian football, cricket, hockey, rugby union and league, and soccer. There is extensive information on the activity profile of athletes from field sports in the literature stemming from GPS, and this includes total distance covered by players and distance in velocity bands. Global positioning systems have also been applied to detect fatigue in matches, identify periods of most intense play, different activity profiles by position, competition level, and sport. More recent research has integrated GPS data with the physical capacity or fitness test score of athletes, game-specific tasks, or tactical or strategic information. The future of GPS analysis will involve further miniaturization of devices, longer battery life, and integration of other inertial sensor data to more effectively quantify the effort of athletes.
Robert J. Aughey is with the Institute for Sport, Exercise and Active Living, School of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, and Western Bulldogs Football Club, Melbourne, Australia.