Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

Wearable Soccer (Football) Sensors: Enhancing Performance and Tracking

Football, or soccer, is a sport that demands precision, agility, and endurance. To excel in this game, players and coaches rely on technological advancements to enhance performance and monitor progress. One such innovation is wearable soccer sensors. These small devices, equipped with cutting-edge technology, can track various metrics during training sessions and matches.

A Very Very Brief History Of Wearable Tracking In Team Sports

Since the early 2000s, wearable sensors with GPS tracking have been utilized to monitor athletes in team sports. Initially, two main companies, Catapult Sports and GPSports, developed and sold athlete tracking systems in Australia. Over time, these tracking systems gained popularity in other team sports like soccer and hockey.

soccer tracking device

The Vest/Tank Top

These tracking systems typically involve a vest or tank top worn by athletes, with a sensor device placed in a pouch on the upper back. This unobtrusive placement allows for effective GPS tracking. By the late 2010s, numerous companies offered similar hardware technology, and FIFA even developed standards for wearable GPS trackers, categorizing them as Electronic Performance & Tracking Systems (EPTS).

What The Wearable Trackers/Sensors Do?

High-end wearable trackers, such as Catapult Vector, consist of a vest with integrated heart rate sensors and a sensor device with accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and antennas for satellite and local tracking systems. These sensors allow clubs and coaches to track an athlete’s position, distance covered, speed, acceleration, turning, jumping, impacts, and heart rate throughout a training session or game.

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What About Tracking Kicks Or Passes?

While wearable trackers can capture overall movement and physical metrics, they struggle to accurately track specific activities like kicks or passes. The sensors placed on the upper back of the athlete cannot properly identify leg or feet movements. While computer vision and pose estimation algorithms can track an athlete’s whole-body movements, they require clear footage without occlusions, making it challenging to implement on a soccer field with 22 players. Therefore, tracking a player’s kicks or passes requires sensors placed directly on the leg or feet.

Soccer Specific Sensors

Several sensor products have been designed specifically for soccer players, focusing on tracking soccer-specific activities. Let’s explore seven different sensor products that can be worn on a player’s calf or feet, highlighting their features and capabilities.

Calf Sensor 1: Footbar (Meteor)

Footbar, a French company founded in 2014, developed the Meteor sensor. This wearable sensor is strapped to a player’s calf, just below the knee. The sensor connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, allowing users to analyze metrics like shots, passes, dribbling times, running time, distance covered, sprints, and more. The app provides performance analysis, player comparisons, challenges, and even team solutions for clubs.

Calf Sensor 2: Zepp Play Soccer

Zepp, known for its sensors in golf, tennis, and baseball, introduced a sensor product for soccer kicks in 2016. The Zepp Play Soccer sensor is placed in a calf sleeve, with metrics including distance covered, speeds, sprints, kicks, and goal conversion rate. Users can sync the sensor data with the Zepp Play Soccer app and capture video highlights. The app also provides personal best statistics and team tracking options.

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Calf Sensor 3: Oliver

Oliver, based in Barcelona, Spain, developed a calf motion sensor with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and a GPS module. This GPS tracker, worn at the calf, can monitor football-specific skills. Oliver offers a player platform and a separate platform for coaches, providing metrics like heat maps, ball interactions, running distances, sprints, and more. The app also offers injury risk assessment and gamification features, allowing players to compare their performance with others worldwide.

Calf Sensor 4: Next11

Next11, a Danish startup founded in 2018, offers a sensor meant for an entire soccer team. This system tracks players’ positions, as well as individual movements. It includes an instrumented ball, allowing accurate ball possession tracking. The Next11 system provides technical, physical, and tactical metrics, such as passes, kicking velocity, speed, sprints, and ball positions. With real-time data streaming and a dedicated app, coaches can monitor and evaluate team performance seamlessly.

Feet Sensor 1: Jogo

Jogo, a startup from the Netherlands, aims to improve football player development through insole sensors and video tracking. Their insole sensors capture various metrics, including distance, time on the ball, ball touches, shot power, passes, and more. The Jogo app utilizes camera tracking and pose estimation algorithms to track exercises and drills. While Jogo recently canceled their Kickstarter campaign and was acquired by 433, their technology is expected to be integrated into 433’s platform.

Feet Sensor 2: Xampion

Xampion, a Finnish startup founded in 2016, offers insole sensors that track soccer motion in both feet. These sensors capture metrics such as ball touches, contact points, speeds, sprints, and distances covered. The Xampion app provides detailed scores in key skill points, ball touchpoint summaries, and analytical tools for coaches to evaluate players’ performance and progress over time.

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Feet Sensor 3: Playermaker

Playermaker, an Israeli company, developed smart sensors designed to be strapped to the outside of soccer boots. These sensors capture metrics like ball touches, playing tempo, technical balance, speed, and volume. The Playermaker app offers visualizations of data, player benchmarking, goal setting, coach feedback, and in-depth analysis. Designed for players at all levels, Playermaker requires a monthly subscription for access to its platform.

Summary & Final Thoughts

These soccer-specific wearable sensors offer valuable insights into players’ performance and progress. While there are differences in the features and capabilities of each sensor, all of them track physical and technical metrics, including distance covered, speeds, sprints, kicks, passes, and more. It is fascinating to see how these technologies continue to evolve as players and teams utilize them over time.

As a football enthusiast, staying up-to-date with the latest developments in wearable soccer sensors is crucial. If you want to explore further and receive updates in this area, make sure to subscribe to the Pesstatsdatabase blog. To find out more about any of the sensors mentioned or discuss sports tech ideas, feel free to reach out or leave a comment. Thank you for reading, and let’s continue to support and elevate the beautiful game of soccer!