From the Field to the TV: Real-Time Stats in the NFL – Part 1

A couple months ago we pushed out a blog about all the technology surrounding Super Bowl 49. While most of us were talking about why Pete Carroll decided to throw the ball on 2nd and goal with short time left (a poor decision in my opinion…), some of our blog readers called asking questions about Zebra’s MotionWorks™ technology that tracks real-time stats on the field.

If you’re one of those people who are curious about how your TV shows player’s movement, distance, speed, and more, keep scrolling.

How’s it work?

If you’ve got two minutes, take a look at this video that explains the technology:

Around a minute into the video, you’ll see the RFID chips in their shoulderpads and RFID readers and antennas being installed around the field. As a player runs down the field, the antennas sense the displacement from point A to point B and how much time passed in between to calculate the player’s speed and distance.

What information can we get from this technology?

The technology goes far beyond speed and distance. By having two of these chips (one on the left shoulder, one on the right shoulder) MotionWorks can detect more information, such as:

  • a player’s direction,
  • angles of the route they’re running,
  • how far player A is from player B,
  • how high a player jumped, and
  • how quickly the quarterback released the football.

Pretty much any time a player makes a juke move, dives for the end zone, or sacks the quarterback, there are dozens of stats to compile and compare.

We’ve only outlined the basics of the technology – how it works and what’s involved – but how is this information used? Who benefits from this information? Stay tuned for part 2 to find out!
About the author:JSHeadshot

Jason Shanley is L-Tron’s Content Creator & Creative Design Specialist and often writes about Zebra Technologies, mPOS, mobile computers, and 2D barcodes in retail. Jason believes everything can be fixed with tape and plays volleyball on Tuesdays. He can be reached at or (800) 830-9523 ext 115.