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Using GPS in Lacrosse

Lacrosse continues to make its mark on the American sports landscape as one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Since 2001, the number of players has increased 225% from just over 250,000 to about 825,000 including 210,217 high schoolers (113,313 boys, 96,904 girls).

And who wouldn’t want to play this fast-paced, physically demanding game that includes intermittent high-intensity sprints, rapid changes of direction, contact, and the hand-eye coordination of passing and shooting with stick and ball?

Despite the continued growth of the game there is little documentation on the activity profile of lacrosse. Beyond the total duration of the game (e.g. four 12-minute quarters, two 25-minute halves, etc.) there is little information that tracks players’ movements and breaks down the distances covered, speed, and intensity attained during the sporadic, intermittent and chaotic nature of competition. This sort of information would provide a more precise understanding of the physiological demands of the game, including position-specific and player-specific data, that could be used for performance analysis, training and conditioning.

GPS technology such as the SPT2 can be used to capture these metrics.

A 2015 Australian study (Polley et al. J Strength Cond Res 29(1): 126–136, 2015) using GPS technology has done so. Fifteen male lacrosse players from a state team playing in the National Championships were monitored during 4 matches (4 x 20-minute periods = 80 minute match).  The table below show the average activity profiles by position.

 

  Midfield Attack Defense
Playing Time (min) 36 48 59
Relative Distance (yds/min) 109 95 86
Total distance (yds) 3927 4416 4841
Stand (yards) 139 206 212
Walk (yards) 1160 1514 2177
Jog (yards) 1164 1257 1235
Run (yards) 1244 1279 1058
Sprint (yards) 218 156 152

 

There were also about 25-30 accelerations per minute of low to high effort. It should be noted that distances for jogging, running and sprinting are greater for midfielders when expressed per minute. Coaches should be aware of these greater relative distances in midfielders when considering substitution and recovery patterns.

Although positional differences may be expected for those familiar with the game, the added information beyond the number of minutes played provides context to what happens during the course of a game and can further aid in the development of conditioning programs.

Besides using GPS to examine the game demands and performance analysis of the players, it can also be used during weekly practice sessions in a similar manner.  In this regard, coaches are managing the weekly and seasonal training load to ensure appropriate training and recovery so that players remain fit, robust, injury resistant, and ready for game day.

Note: The values provided above are averages. Some players ran more, some less. They were also high-level males (age unknown). Further reports are needed for age groups, gender and playing ability.

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