T Nation

Sprint Timing/Measurement Devices

I’ve wanted to work in occasional sprint warmups and shorter sprinting into my workouts/training/conditioning/wtfe you want to call it.

I want to be able to measure and track various sprinting related metrics independent of other people while working out by myself and not needing another human to time me, additionally I’d like to use a system that’s more accurate/consistent/has lower error than even the best hand timing.

I’d like to be able to do things like time a 10, 20, 40yd dash, measure top speed following runups of various distances, and measures like sprinting volume at or above a designated speed.

I believe NCAAFB and NFL teams use GPS technology to measure these things for every player every day.

Lots of GPS watches and fitbits and stuff, but I’m unfamiliar with all the features of these devices. In general Garmin watches and Fitbit seem to just be about tracking steps, heart rate, telling you to stand up and walk around, and LISS type of training. I’ve also heard they tend to be wildly inaccurate.

I was wondering if anyone is aware of a similar service available to individual recreational athletes that is accurate like devices/services used by NCAAFB/NFL teams and also happened to be affordable without having to pay 100 or more dollars up front.

IMHO, it’s strange that the common business strategy of undercutting the market to offer low cost to high number of users hasn’t worked it’s way into the sprint timing market where the only option seems to be buying full systems that cost anywhere from $1000 to $5000 that are intended for a team based setting and require extensive setup and calibration every time you want to use them. Conversely I guess there might not be the potential user base because in most first world countries you have to buy an apple watch to remind you to stand your fat sedentary ass up, while the majority of people lack general movement proficiency let alone be able to sprint 10 or 20 yards

GPS units and second-spectrum video analysis are used by various collegiate and professional sports teams to track players’ total running metres, high-speed running efforts, average speed, duration of high-speed efforts, changes of direction, jumps etc. in games or scrimmage. They don’t use these units to track metrics during warm-ups or non-scrimmage training.

For your intent, the tools you want would be:

  • Measuring 10/20/40 yard sprint times: Timing gaits, e.g. Freelap Timing System
  • Measuring top speed with run-ups: Radar gun, timing gaits * (I’ll explain how to set this up below)
  • Sprinting volume at or above a designated speed: GPS units, or planning

They don’t exist.

However, if you are simply programming sprinting into your workouts:

  • film your sprints in slow-motion and use the video time markings to estimate your sprint times. You can use this to measure your sprint times over a designated distance, but a high degree of error is involved.
  • to measure top speed, perform a “Flying 10”. To perform a Fly 10, place 2 markers 10 metres/yards apart. Take the whatever length run-up you need such that, when you hit the first marker, you are sprinting at top speed. Maintain your top speed until you hit the second marker. Your average speed between the two markers is a good estimate for your top speed. Calculate it by dividing the distance covered by the time taken. You can change the length of the run-in as needed. Typical run-in distances are 10, 20 and 30 metres. The 20 and 30m run-ins will give you the best estimate of max velocity. If you perform fly 10s, the above video method is likely to have too much error to be valid, so you will need timing gates.
  • Why do you need a device to tell you the number of sprints above a certain speed? Just track your total high-intensity metres. For most sprint workouts, 100-300m with full intent is enough volume. Keep in mind that accelerations (sprints 0-20m) and max-velocity sprints (20+ m) are different physical qualities, but both still contribute to the 100-300m volume bracket.

it’s because sprinting comes down to hundredths of a second, so having valid and reliable timing tools is essential.

This is the cheapest, valid system you’ll find: Freelap Pro BT112 - Store

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Yeah I can’t afford the Freelap system because I’m basically a hobo. “This is America, you don’t make money, you’re a douchebag.”

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also in general I don’t really have a track for official T&F competition or grass field with nice surgical measured distances available to me because I’m not in high school and no one here cares about facilities for recreational retardation other than beer league softball.

I’m in the same situation my man. I’ve trained myself and a lot of athletes without any kit other than some markers.

You don’t need a nice field or expensive timing systems to sprint.

If you want to sprint, just sprint. Don’t worry about metrics

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I wanna add also that even if you are highly trained professional and train hard for improving sprint times do not expect higher than 2-5 percent of increase of speed per year.

If you havent sprinted before, you can expect bigger improvements, but there is really no point in measuring more than 2-3 times per year.