NBA Reportedly Funding Study on Wearable GPS Devices

by September 21, 2015

Player-tracking has evolved from merely the statistical, and has now entered the biological realm, with teams hooking guys up to tiny wearable GPS devices during practices.

Reportedly, some teams are now pushing to have players monitored during live-game action, but the League wants an in-depth study done first.

They must also convince the players’ union that the data produced by these machines is in everyone’s best interest.

Per Grantland:

The NBA is putting its own money into the study of wearable GPS devices, with the likely end goal of outfitting players during games, according to several league sources. The league is funding a study, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, of products from two leading device-makers: Catapult and STATSports. […] The league declined comment on the study. Most teams already use the gadgets during practices, and Catapult alone expects to have about 20 NBA team clients by the start of the 2015-16 season. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants wore Catapult monitors during D-League games last season in an obvious trial run for potential use at the parent league.


Several GMs and other team higher-ups have privately pushed for in-game use, but they understand the league has to collectively bargain that kind of step with the players’ union. Team executives want to know as much as they can about player health, and also whether guys are going as hard as they can during games.


“My greatest concern is how some of this information might be leaked or used in contract negotiations,” says Michele Roberts, executive director of the players’ union. Roberts did not know about the Mayo Clinic study but says she supports continued research into wearables. […] The union had the same reservations about SportVU camera data, which tracks running speed, distance, and player location during games. The league outfitted all 29 arenas with SportVU cameras in fall 2013, and every team now has access to the same trove of camera data on every player.