NBA Teams Using GPS Tracking Devices on Players

by August 26, 2013

Data-tracking cameras are so last week. GPS is now where it’s at in the League. The Dallas Mavericks are one of eight teams that are beginning to experiment with wearable GPS tracking devices on players, as a tool to help them better understand and train their athletes. Per Jeff Caplan of “The devices track player movements and body vitals and are designed to optimize training efficiency and mitigate injury risks. ‘We just want to be able to get smarter about our players and how to train them and how to put them in a position to succeed,’ said Mavs owner Mark Cuban. ‘So that’s just one component of a lot of different things that we’re doing.’ Athletes wear a cell-phone sized device on the inside of their jerseys between their shoulders, and it records their every movement in all directions as well as their heart rate. This gives coaches what Catapult’s Gary McCoy describes as a ‘dashboard’ for players’ bodies. While the devices have only been used in practices, Cuban said that he is considering using them during the preseason and that the league has not yet prevented him from doing so. (The Spurs have used the devices in Summer League games, becoming the first team to use them in game situations. The NBA prohibits the use of the devices during regular season games.) For the Mavs, the Catapult technology seems to be only one part of a much larger sports science technology plan. Cuban recently fired his 10-year strength and conditioning coach and said his replacement will be ‘more of an expert in performance technology science.’ The Mavs were also one of the first four NBA teams–along with the Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder–to install SportVU cameras in the rafters of its arena in 2011 to track player and ball movements throughout games.”