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Cutting-edge technology put Australian Diamonds on track

She is the PhD student who looms as a secret weapon in regaining Australia's netball supremacy.

Alice Sweeting is using world-leading indoor player tracking technology, which is hoped to give the Australian Diamonds a vital edge for next year's Commonwealth Games and the 2015 World Cup.

The Victoria University student has been commissioned for three years to use a system called radio frequency tracking to monitor the amount of distance players cover in a game, along with the amount of high-intensity running and where they are positioned on court.

It is information similar to what football codes have been cultivating from GPS tracking.

A tracking device the size of an iPhone is attached to each player, sending a radio signal to one of the 12 bay stations positioned around the court. That data is transmitted to Sweeting's laptop, where she has access to real-time information and can provide feedback to the coaches and players.

''It's great information for netballers because we can see what they're doing out on the court,'' Sweeting said. ''We're able to see what their physical capacity is like and, from a tactical point of view, coaches are able to see where players are in relation to one another.


''We hope to see if there's any recurring patterns or trends in the data that are related to injury.''

GPS tracking is popular among the various football codes.

Sweeting has previously worked at AFL club the Western Bulldogs as an assistant sports scientist.

An elite midfielder in the AFL can run up to 20 kilometres in a game. Rugby league players can cover up to 12 kilometres, depending on their position.

The tracking technology is being used at the Australian Institute of Sport this week as part of a selection camp for the Australian under-21 squad ahead of the world youth netball championships in August.

Australian under-21 defender Joanna Weston was blown away when the tracking revealed she had covered 4.7 kilometres during a game - double what she expected.

''It was surprising to see how far we ran,'' she said. ''It's going to help in terms of targeting what fitness we have to do.''