The Design and Development of a Novel AFL Agility Tester

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction: Agility has become an increasingly important attribute to assess among athletes within performance testing protocols. Currently implemented agility tests lack perceptual and decision-making attributes associated with the construct. These are important aspects to address given that performance testing can monitor progressive improvement, assist talent identification processes, and help determine positional roles and responsibilities. Thus, the design and development of a novel system capable of testing all components of athlete agility was proposed. Methods: An engineering design process consisting of problem definition, conceptual design, solution concept, design embodiment and detail design was undertaken. In addition to significant research and development, the iterative process involved integrating mechanical, electrical and software engineering with rapid prototyping technologies to construct a proof-of-concept prototype. The system composed of one master device controlling multiple slave markers wirelessly. Microcontrollers processed various computations whilst simultaneously controlling peripheral hardware that made up the core of the electronics; surrounded by custom 3D printed enclosures. Software and hardware tests ensured successful integration of all parts to maintain the primary function of testing athlete agility. Results & Discussion: A fully functional prototype system with the capacity to test an athlete’s agility incorporating both perceptual and decision-making factors was developed. The prototype met 92.3% of first order engineering specifications established to satisfy the functional requirements. The total mass of the system was 10.7 kg, with each device weighing less than 1.8 kg. The markers measured 250 mm high, with circumference of 200 mm. The system, for the first time, boasts the capability of self-measuring the componentry layout for test replication and standardisation. The system presents a series of random stimuli (acting as a reactive component) dispersed across a testing zone that the athlete must deactivate, thereby activating another component successively. 120 unique sequences were generated to maximise uncertainty and randomness, whilst ensuring equal distance covered for any given test. Additionally, sport specific apparatus (such as an AFL football, netball or basketball) can be incorporated to add a sport specific ball-handling element to the test. The sensor for detection of sport specific apparatus removal had a response time of 0.0036427 seconds. Conclusions: By employing a logical and systematic engineering design process, disciplines of mechanical, electrical and software engineering were fused to design and develop an innovative, tangible product. This novel system is predicted to assist coaches in talent identification processes, monitoring progressive improvement, and determining positional roles and responsibilities of athletes. We anticipate that this prototype will pave the way for the advancement of athlete performance testing to more closely represent athletic and game demands within performance testing batteries and training programs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2019
EventWorld Congress on Science and Football - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Center, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 4 Jun 20197 Jun 2019


ConferenceWorld Congress on Science and Football
Internet address


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