Leading Australian sports coaches have hailed the impact of tracking technology, with Wallabies mentor Michael Cheika set to utilise the latest innovation in the leadup to the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Cheika plans to use the ClearSky system at the Wallabies camp on the NSW Central Coast prior to their first RC and Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Sydney next month.
ClearSky uses portable satellites called nodes inside a stadium and could help coaches refine their tactics by providing precise overhead images of players across a field.
“For positional play of alignment and realignment, which is very important in a game, a drone from the top gives you a great picture,” Cheika said.
“It’s going to give us a really accurate read on player tracking around the fields.
“I spoke about the lack of our detail and accuracy in June (in the 3-0 series loss to England) and anything I can do to make us have more detail and be clear on our roles and our jobs when we go out on the field, I’ll do it.”
Cheika said the technology still allowed him to rely on his gut instincts, but as an old school coach he hadn’t been convinced of it’s merits until he was at Irish Club Leinster almost a decade ago.
Sydney AFL coach John Longmire said monitoring player workloads through the Catapult wearable technology used by all AFL clubs had led to a reduction in soft tissue injuries in that competition.
“It’s really important for their mindset too because if you’ve got a player who has had a couple of soft tissue injuries, they go into a training session and games and they run with `I hope it doesn’t go again’ in their mind,” Longmire said.
“So to be able to give some data to that player and to be able to put his mind at rest, that helps him enormously to be able to perform, because he knows he’s achieved what he needs to achieve when he gets on the field.”
Australian mens Olympic sevens rugby coach Andy Friend said monitoring player workloads through tracking was part and parcel of training.
“Without it we actually feel a bit nude …. you’re running blind,” Friend said.
South Sydney NRL coach Michael Maguire likened the use of tracking of players to analysing the performance of a Formula One car.
“Everything in that car is analysed, GPS allows you to do that to the body,” Maguire said.
“(Rabbitohs star) Greg Inglis is such a fine tuned athlete, he will walk into our operation and we’re getting data and information about how he’s feeling even before he starts in a training session.”