2020 was a year unlike any other. It forced us all to adapt in nearly every aspect of our lives and figure out ways to connect with one another despite the physical distance. For many, technology took a major place when it comes to home fitness. It brought companies like FitBit, Apple Fitness, Peloton, Google Fit, and even Amazon to compete in this industry segment. These companies touch on almost every sport, but one sport still seems to be missed–soccer.
COVID-19 restrictions forced soccer programs all over the country to close and cancel practices, leaving players to train on their own. But, despite teams being physically separated and confined to remote training, players can remain connected to their coaches and teammates and also improve their skills with connected technologies to track every session and share progress remotely.
What is Connected Footwear Technology?
Connected or “smart” footwear technology is a unique technology that incorporates motion sensors that are placed on the cleats with its own intelligence that learns the soccer-specific movements and turns it into actionable insights for the players. It collects data such as the number of touches, leg balance, left and right leg usage, kick velocity, top speed, distance, and many more key performance indicators (KPIs).
In five years, all athlete's movements will be tracked and monitored either by wristbands, home training devices, and connected footwear technology. The underlying aim of all this technology is to support practitioners in improving their athletes performance, while reducing the risk of injury to the individual, thus supporting the teams need to be ready for competition.
Connected footwear technology gives soccer players at every level an opportunity to carry on developing their technical and physical game remotely while keeping their coach involved. Technology like UNO by Playermaker monitors every session performance data and transforms it to unparalleled insights about their game and abilities, improving their game allowing them to achieve their dreams and potential.
How Does Connected Footwear Technology Help Improve Skills?
First and foremost, they make every session measurable. How can a player improve if they don’t fully understand their strengths, weaknesses, and their personal style of play?
With smart wearables, athletes can tap into real stats about their game and use them to hone in on areas of improvement and track their progress. It’s about converting knowledge into results. If every session can be tracked, every session then becomes an opportunity to beat a personal best and level up their game.
These technologies also allow teams to stay connected even if they are training remotely. When all of a player's performance data is at their fingertips, it is easy to share metrics with coaches, teammates, parents, and even scouts. For players interested in competing at the highest levels, this data helps to gain better opportunities for recruitment by colleges and clubs.
Gain a Competitive Edge
Big shoe companies and startups alike are developing smart shoes and use sneakers and connected technology to deliver additional data on workouts and performance that provides a fuller picture and helps athletes level up and gain a competitive edge in their sport.
Some companies and apps that are providing connected technology:
- UNO by Playermaker is specifically designed to help develop the next generation of soccer’s elite. UNO is a kit that contains two smart sensors for the left and the right foot and a pair of straps to attach to the cleats which tracks soccer-specific foot-to-ball interactions including technical and physical metrics.
- Nike HyperAdapt is gearing up to introduce the second generation of its self-lacing shoes which uses Nike E.A.R.L. (Electric Adaptable Reaction Lacing) technology that allows the footwear to adjust to the contours of your foot.
- Under Armour has developed their Connected sneakers series designed for “zero gravity feel” with Energy Web technology that gives back the same level of energy you exert in every stride.
- Xiaomi has the Mijia Smart Shoes which are powered by an Intel Curie module based on the Quark SE system and has sensors that can rival Nike+ at a cheaper price point.
So how can all of this help athletes and teams level-up? Right now, athletes can get remote support and analyses that help coaches better understand their player's status returning back into training. In the long run, wearable technologies help athletes maintain activity and progress and can help enhance performance and reduce injury risk for players.