"This technology is quickly becoming ubiquitous and will be as normal to your player’s training and game day kit as shin guards are today."
The world of sports is no stranger to using technology to monitor movement. Everything from smart footballs and connected basketballs to sensors built into tennis racquets, bats and golf clubs have become a staple on the sports marketplace.
But soccer has presented a unique challenge to the movement tracking industry. How and what do you quantify to measure soccer performance?
Some of the best pro soccer teams in the world are using “Wearable Tech,” systems in which small fitted vests with GPS tracking devices deliver data on max speed, total distance, left/right step balance, activity heat maps and more.
The technology isn’t limited to the pros, as it has filtered its way down to the youth levels of the sport.
"Some of the key datapoints our technology captures for soccer players include whether or not an athlete is reaching their max speed in training and how those practice speeds compare to what they need to do to succeed in a game," said Marilou McFarlane, president of North America Soccer for STATSports.
Other types of data being captured and measured include:
Total Distance: How do you know if your player is fit enough to cover the distance their position demands in game?
Step Balance: How do you know if that left ankle is a real problem versus just a small annoyance?
Activity Heatmap: How do your players know if they are playing their position where they’re supposed to?
The information is presented to athletes on a mobile app, allowing them to compare their data to that of teammates, players on other teams and even members of the U.S. Soccer national teams. Players set goals and objectives, then track their progress.
McFarlane said Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Mallory Pugh, many of the best pro teams in the world and all the U.S. Soccer National Teams all are using “wearable tech.”
"Just as runners are able to measure and monitor their performance with the watch on their wrist, now soccer players at all levels can track and improve their physical performances during games, practice and in the off season," McFarlane said. "This technology is quickly becoming ubiquitous and will be as normal to your player’s training and game day kit as shin guards are today."