Timing Gates - Picking The Right Timing System For Sprint Testing In 2023
As a track and field coach & competitive sprinter, I know that measurement of speed matters. Whether measuring sprint times or reactive agility tests, having electronic timing gates is crucial for getting the most out of your speed training programs.
I have used many different timing gates to measure sprint performance, and as a result can help you identify which timing gate system is best for your needs.
Timing gates, also called timing systems, measure the time it takes for an athlete to sprint. These can be based on laser timing systems, transponder-based systems, or visual systems.
The 6 Best Timing Gates For Sports Timing
- Freelap Timing System (Most Convenient)
- Swift Performance Timing Gates (Best Technology)
- Brower Timing System (Most Well-Known)
- Dashr (Affordable & High Quality)
- SKLZ Speed Gates (Cheapest System)
- Finish Lynx (For Competition Timing)
Details About Timing Gate Systems
Here we will cover the details of these timing gates, including their features, their use cases, and their prices.
Freelap Timing System
The Freelap Timing System is the system of timing gates that I currently use. I find that it is simple to use, provides accurate timing, and doesn't take up as much space as other brands of timing gates.
You can use split times to measure speed averaged over different distances, measure sprint times to a specific distance, and capture flying sprint times to test your flying 10 or flying 30-meter sprints.
How Freelap Works
Freelap Timing Systems use a transponder system that detects electromagnetic fields to time your sprints. To keep things basic, the Freelap utilizes 3 main components:
Freelap Transmitters: Freelap transmitters, which look like cones, are placed along the lane line on top of the track. These emit EMFs which are detected by Freelap chips.
Freelap Chip: The Freelap chip is worn by the athlete and detects the EMF sent by the transmitter. When passing by the cones, your time is recorded within the chip.
MyFreelap app: When the athlete passes a transmitter set to the Finish setting, timing data is sent via Bluetooth and recorded on your mobile device using the MyFreelap app. Data is also accessible via the internet using your myfreelap.com account.
Freelap Timing Systems & Components
There are two primary systems to choose from when considering the Freelap.
- Freelap BT Systems
- Freelap BLE Systems
The difference between these two systems is that the BT system uses FX BLE chips, which send timing information directly to your mobile device. In contrast, the BLE system utilizes the normal FX Chip, and requires the BLE Relay Coach to transmit times to your mobile app.
The Freelap BT System is better for individual athletes who want to time their sprints, or coaches who are not timing many athletes at once. This system is cheaper to buy, but the BLE chips are more expensive at $249, meaning that it can get costly if you need several chips to time athletes.
The Freelap BLE System is better for coaches who are timing large groups of athletes. It costs more up front because you have to buy the BLE Relay Coach, but costs less to expand when you buy more chips. The standard FX Chip costs $149, making it cheaper to expand your timing system.
Here is a chart looking at the differences between Freelap BT and BLE systems.
Other Freelap Timing System Components
The Freelap has some additional components which can be useful to add.
The Freelap e-Starter allows you to start the timing with the sound of a starting gun, which allows you to record times which include your reaction time. Using this in practice has helped improve my reaction time, and my starts in competitions have improved as a result. The e-Starter is best for athletes who compete in track & field. The Freelap e-Starter costs $299.
The Freelap Tx Touch Pro is a touchpad starter that starts the timer when your finger releases the button. This is useful for timing sprints to certain distances if you do not care to have reaction time included in the sprint time. This is perfect for timing your 40-yard dash. The Freelap Tx Touch Pro costs $139.
How Much Does Freelap Cost
How much your Freelap timing system costs will depend on which components you buy. Here is a breakdown of the prices for Freelap Timing Systems:
- Freelap BT112: Starts at $535, which includes two timing gates and an FX BLE chip. Can be upgraded to $659 with the Tx Touch Pro. Each additional timing gate costs $169, and additional Freelap BLE Chips costs $249.
- Freelap BLE112: Starts at $1265, which includes two timing gates, an FX Chip, and the BLE Relay Coach. This can be upgraded to $1389 with the Tx Touch Pro. Additional timing gates cost $169, and additional Freelap FX Chips cost $149.
Final Thoughts On The Freelap
Having used Freelap as my preferred timing gate when I sprint or coach athletes, I can attest to its simplicity and ease of use.
If you want a timing gate system that fits in a backpack, takes up little space, is convenient to use, and is easily upgraded, the Freelap Timing System is a good choice.
You can learn more about this product in my Freelap review.
Swift Performance Timing Gates
Swift Performance offers the highest level of technology available for testing athletes in sprinting, jumping, and reactive agility drills.
Swift Performance offers a few configurations with its timing gates.
Swift Performance Uno
The Uno is their most affordable system, which utilizes a single beam setup to measure sprint times and agility tests. Some of its key features include:
- Multiple starting modes for flying sprints, 3-point starts and starts with reaction time.
- Single beam laser with false trigger detection.
- Qi Wireless charging to keep your Swift Performance Uno ready to go easily.
- The ability to create custom drills using their SYNCRO app.
Swift Performance Duo
The Duo is their mid-range option for testing agility, speed, and conditioning. It comes with the same features as the Uno, as well as these additional features:
- The dual-beam system ensures accuracy and reliability with every testing session.
- Laser alignment spot for easy gate setup
- Syncro test designer allows you to use a drag & drop interface to create custom testing protocols.
- Eight-hour battery life keeps your system running during testing day.
- Multi-lane testing allows you to test multiple athletes in a single sprint.
- Digital output allows you to synchronize timing data with video for elite-level technical alaysis.
Swift Performance Neo
The Swift Performance Neo is the most cutting edge timing gate setup available. It comes with all of the features of the Uno and Duo, while also having these additional features:
- The Swift Neo can measure pacing, depth of turn, and time in turn to assess curvilinear sprint performance.
- Each Neo is integrated with the MOVE sensor, which can detect movement at the start of a sprint.
- Can be integrated with other tools, such as the EZ Jump mat, to test multiple qualities of performance in the same session.
How Much Do The Swift Performance Timing Gates Cost?
- Swift Performance Uno - $3276.55 for two timing gates, $5,974.05 for four gates.
- Swift Performance Duo - $4986.55 for two gates, $9,594.05 for four gates.
- Swift Performance Neo - $9024.55 for two gates, $15,579.05 for four gates, $23,654.05 for six gates, and $29,829.05 for eight gates.
Final Thoughts On The Swift Performance Timing Gates
If you want the absolute best timing setup on the market, then the Swift Performance has the technology, software, and accurate timing you need in a quality timing gate system.
While price is a major factor, nothing can beat Swift Performance's timing regarding features and technology. From its wireless charging to its error correction processing, it gives you the ability to record data you can trust without the hassle of other products.
If you have the budget, then the Swift Performance timing gates are worthy of consideration.
Brower Timing System
The Brower Timing System is another brand that I have used extensively. It is very accurate, relatively simple to use, and can be expanded with additional timing gates.
The Brower can measure sprints to a distance, flying sprints, or agility tests. It takes up most space than the Freelap but requires no wearable timing chips.
How Brower Timing Gates Work
Brower Timing Systems use a laser-based system where a laser and receiver are set up opposite each other on either side of the lane. As the athlete sprints through the device, the laser is disrupted, and this detects the athlete's time.
Brower timing gates utilize a few different components:
- Brower Timing Gates: These are set up on each side of the lane, with the laser pointed at the receiver directly across from it.
- Brower TCi Start: The Brower TCi Start, which can be used with the TCi system, starts the athlete using either motion detection or an audible starting noise.
- Brower Motion Start: Used with the Brower Black Box timing system, the Motion Start detects an athlete's motion to start the timer. This can be based on hand or foot movement.
How Much Do Brower Timing Gates Cost?
Depending on which system you go for, the price of a Brower Timing System varies. Here is a basic rundown of the costs associated with Brower timing gates:
- Brower Black Box Timing System: The Brower Black Box timing system starts at $798, and comes with one set of timing gates, the Brower Motion Start, and a smartphone app to record your times.
- Brower TCi Timing System: The Brower TCi timing system starts at $1358, which includes one set of timing gates, the TCi starter, and a carrying case. You can upgrade to the smartphone interface with a total system cost of $1765, and add additional timing gates for $539.
Final Thoughts On Brower Timing Systems
The Brower Timing System is an excellent system if you want accurate timing without the need for athletes to wear timing chips. The Brower is more expensive than the Freelap, both to initially buy it and to expand to multiple timing gates.
If you need to time many athletes at once, can take up more than one lane at the track, and can afford the higher up-front costs, the Brower TCi is a good option.
Dashr Timing Gates
Dashr is another laser-based timing system that allows you to measure the sprint times of your athletes easily.
Dashr accurately measures times and can display times on a smartphone app or on their larger display add-on. Dashr is one of the more affordable systems on the market if you only need one timing gate, and can time a wide variety of exercises.
Dashr also has other cool products, such as the Dashr Biostation, Dashr React, and Dashr Jump.
How Dashr Timing Gates Work
As athletes sprint through the timing gates, the laser beam will be triggered to register their times. This is virtually the same mechanism as is used in the Brower timing system.
Times are sent to your smartphone, and up to 10 athletes can be added to your roster for free.
Dashr also has an online dashboard that you can use to track times, and it can be integrated with other technology, such as the MoveFactorX bar velocity sensor.
Dashr timing gate components:
- Dashr Timing Gate: The Dashr Blue lasers communicate with each other to detect when the athlete sprints through a single beam.
- Dashr React: The Dashr React allows you to add a reaction component to your timing. LED lights signal the athlete to sprint and can be used to work on visually-based reactive abilities or measure reactive agility tests.
Here is a chart comparing the Dashr features based on the number of gates you buy.
How Much Do Dashr Timing Gates Cost?
Here is a breakdown of the costs associated with Dashr timing gates.
The Dashr system starts out at $375, making it affordable for most people. It costs $690 for two timing gates, $990 for 3 gates, and $1300 for a four-gate timing system.
Final Thoughts On Dashr Timing Systems
Overall, the Dashr system is similar to Brower but is much cheaper. If you want accurate sprint testing with laser-based gate technology, the Dashr is a solid option.
The main drawback of Dashr is the cost of upgrading to multiple timing gates, which is worth considering.
SKLZ Speed Gates
SKLZ Speed Gates are the cheapest method of timing currently available.
The SKLZ speed gates can be used for sprints up to 50 meters in length, making it more useful for short sprint testing or sessions.
How SKLZ Speed Gates Work
As with the Dashr and Brower, the SKLZ Speed Gates detect an athlete's time based on a single laser beam which gets disrupted when an athlete runs past the device.
Times are transmitted to the SKLZ timer, which records up to 50 sprints in its memory bank and displays your time on the screen.
Because it has no starting mechanism, the SKLZ Speed Gates are better for timing flying sprints or sprints to a specific distance using a 1-meter lead-in start.
SKLZ Speed Gates utilize these components:
- SKLZ Sensor
- SKLZ Cone
- SKLZ Timer
How Much Do SKLZ Timing Gates Cost?
The pricing on the SKLZ system is quite simple - it costs $129.
Final Thoughts On SKLZ Timing
If you want the cheapest timing system on the market, the SKLZ Speed Gate is for you. This is the most limited timing setup as it relates to features, but at this price, it is hard to complain.
Finish Lynx Fully-Automatic Timing
While the other options on this list are great for training, Finish Lynx is the preferred timing gate setup for competition timing.
You need a Finish Lynx System if you are running a track meet.
How Does The Finish Lynx Work?
Finish Lynx uses a high-speed camera set up at the finish line to measure sprinters' times in competition. The starting gun is connected with either a wired or wireless connection to the camera, and the system is operated from a computer used by the officials in charge of timing.
As athletes cross the finish line, Finish Lynx cameras capture the moment that each athlete's chest crosses the plane of the finish.
FinishLynx Timing Models
Finish Lynx offers multiple options for competition timing:
- Finish Lynx Scholastic: This is the entry-level option for timing track meets. It comes with basic features to get your meet going.
- Finish Lynx Bronze: The Bronze comes with a better camera, a higher frame rate, higher manual zoom, and support for other features and automatic wind gauges.
- Finish Lynx Silver: The Silver boasts a motorized zoom, 2000 frames per second frame rate, high-resolution images, and remote camera adjustments.
- Finish Lynx Gold: The Gold comes with a full-frame camera sensor for higher quality images, the RadioLynx wireless starting system, and a 9-digit LED display.
Here is a chart of all the various features available in Finish Lynx systems, separated by model.
How Much Does A Finish Lynx Timing Camera Cost?
Here are the current prices for Finish Lynx fully-automatic timing systems:
- Finish Lynx Scholastic: $4995
- Finish Lynx Bronze: $7995
- Finish Lynx Silver: $11,495
- Finish Lynx Gold: $17,995
Final Thoughts On Finish Lynx Timing Gates
If you are tasked with timing track & field meets, then the Finish Lynx is what you need.
Which model you choose will depend on the features you prefer, but the Bronze and Silver models offer the best value for the price.
These timing gates are not usable for practice, so you may want to consider another option on this list if you want to time sprints in when not competing.
Which Timing Gates Are Best For You?
To decide which timing setup you should use in your sprint testing session, you should identify which key features you need to focus on.
Some questions you might ask yourself:
- Are you timing multiple athletes or just timing yourself?
- Do you care about the setup time?
- Are you a team coach with full track access or a private coach working in a small space?
- What is your budget?
Many coaches have had success using the Swift Performance, Freelap, Brower, and Dashr, while I have not heard of any coaches using the SKLZ setup.
If you have a big budget and want the absolute best technology, the Swift Performance timing gates are the route to go.
For my own uses, though, I prefer the Freelap for these reasons:
- It is average in price, not the cheapest nor the most expensive.
- It provides accurate measurement with the ability to time various forms of sprinting.
- It takes up little space when the cone is set on the ground.
- Data is easily viewed on your phone or computer.
While I do prefer the Freelap, there are reasons to choose the Brower or Dashr instead. These reasons include the following:
- The Brower and Dashr are better for timing large groups of athletes because no wearable chip is needed.
- This timing equipment is accurate and generally will not miss any splits due to being laser-based.
- Dashr has a very affordable single-gate package, costing less than $400.
If you need to time a track & field competition, then a Finish Lynx fully-automatic timing package is best for you. Not many other companies offer timing options for meets, and Finish Lynx is the most trusted brand in this space.
Whichever route you go, having the ability to time athletes when they train gives you data that can be run through the analysis of your sport of choice to assess their performance needs.