Traditional assessment of team-sport activity utilises speed and distance to signify the rate and amount of physical work completed, respectively. However, these measures are insensitive to changes in speed, which incur substantial metabolic cost, and therefore under-estimate energetic demands. Here, alternative approaches were evaluated to identify a more comprehensive measure of intensity in team-sport activity. Whereas accelerometry was comparable to displacement measures, the interaction of speed and acceleration via metabolic power was better able to detect energetically demanding incidents, showing a stronger association with physiological markers of intensity. Energetic analysis represents an improved method for assessing intensity in team-sport activity.