Technology in football: maximizing player performance
The power and strength of Bale, Cristiano, Mbappé, and Messi; the importance of the wingers at Real Madrid or Sevilla, or the secret to the long football career of Joaquín, all find their answer in GPS technology.
The appearance of revolutionary technology such as VAR has changed the way professionals and fans watch football. It’s a system that has come to stay, and has propelled forward electronic monitoring linked to sporting performance.
The black fitted vest worn by football players is increasingly seen as a daily tool essential to improving their numbers.
This technology was first created by companies 20 years ago. For example, Catapult Sports developed the first prototype in 2000. Now, it distributes its product to nearly 2000 athletes in 25 sports and works with teams like Chelsea, Tottenham, and Leicester City.
In March 2015, the International Football Association Board allowed the use of technology in games. This was the key to its development. The Women’s World Cup in Canada was the first official competition that used technology. Since then, everything started to move faster. Last year, FIFA allowed technical analysts to provide information on player performance to trainers during the match.
Systems used today
There are three electronic performance monitoring systems: those which make use of cameras with optical sensor, local position (LPS) and GPS (vests). The first two require more complex installation, while the GPS functions more independently.
FC Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs making use of this technology. The blaugranas (Barcelona followers) have worked for two years with the company Real Track Systems and the innovative Wimy Pro, which combines traditional GPS with Ultra-Widewidth UWB technology, sending up to 20,000 bytes of data per second.
The vest is supported by software and equipped with several antennas, which are installed at the Camp Nou and in training facilities. It can also work together with tools used by medical staff.
The technology offers physiological information, analysing vital signs like cardiac frequency, oxygen or fatigue; cinematic (speed, acceleration…) and tactical individuality (heatmaps).
Very important for the teams of LaLiga Santander
This technology helps to establish a personalized nutritional plan according to the fatigue and exhaustion of every player and provides information to the technical group in order to prepare for later matches.
Wimu, which is also used by other Liga Santander teams such as Sevilla, Betis, Celta and Valladolid and clubs of LaLiga 1 / 2 / 3, has become an essential tool.
Together with this information is the ability to avoid injuries of excessive strain and assist trainers in making rotations.
What future lies ahead?
With access to cheaper devices, the use of GPS at a professional level will integrate step by step into the semi-professional and amateur levels. Eventually this technology will become available to the public.
That being said, the future of the popular black vests is still a mystery. Mounir Zok, former US Olympic Committee director of innovation and technology, states that it’s still a possibility that these vests disappear, being substituted by more “comfortable” devices for the players like adhesive bands.