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Using Technology For Improved Soccer Performance

By John Adams, GK Director No. 1 Soccer Camps  
“You cannot follow a parked car”.  I heard someone say this in passing at school the other day. The perfect metaphor for coaching.  If you don’t improve as a coach, how could you expect your players to improve?  With the advancement of technology, coaching has progressed at a pace we have never seen before.  At the highest levels, technology allows us to evaluate a player’s speed, agility, power and endurance.   Players wear heart rate monitors so coaches can customize workouts and prevent overtraining.  GPS devices can track a player’s total distance traveled in training or a match.  At the younger levels, where this type of technology is too expensive or not appropriate, what types of technology can coaches use to help players?   How can coaches and players use technology to continue their improvement?
Technologies I have used:
1) DARTFISH

I was introduced to this video analysis application this past summer while working No.1 Soccer Camp in Salisbury, MD.  This app works on your iphone or other mobile devises, we had the best on results using the iPad.  The process is simple!  You shoot a video of a player performing a skill.  The player then comes over, views the video and is able to get instant feedback.  The app has a scrub-bar that allows for frame by frame viewing.  It breaks down every detailed movement of the player.  Along with filming, a snapshot can be taken at any point in the video and you can make illustrations on that photo.  A couple of clicks and the video/photos are shared with the player via text or e-mail.  They can also be uploaded to any social media sites.

How does video analysis help to today’s younger player? Video analysis allows for multiple approaches for youth and coaches as well.  The playback aspect of any video is worth it.  You can view something over and over again.  Analyze, compare and improve.

  • Accurate Diagnosis:  Video trumps memory in discovering a weakness.
  • Improve coaching methods:  After diagnosing a problem, coaches can use the video to fix it. Whether its team or individual training, coaches have an opportunity to be very specific when creating a training session.
  • Measure improvement: Take videos of the same skill over time and compare them.
  • Model the best:  Instead of taking the “Here’s what you’re doing wrong” approach, video analysis can allow you to model the best.

2) TWITTER

In the Summer of 2012, I was scrolling through my timeline and I came across a video posted of Jose Mourinho, currently the coach of Chelsea, doing a session on “Protecting the Ball” I was hooked.  What else could I find?  What other ideas could be useful?  Since then, I have connected with coaches from all over the world, saved over 200 videos and documents from the top teams and shared a ton of the stuff of my own as well.

How does Twitter help today’s younger player? Twitter (and other social media sites) can be used as a sharing platform for coaches from all over.  Endless amounts of information are at your fingertips.  This helps coaches, which in turn is helpful to players.  Top level coaches share information that can and should be used with today’s younger players.

3) SPORT-SESSION-PLANNER

Found this little nugget on Twitter.  This is a 3D Session Planning Program that allows you to create and share sessions with coaches and teams who also have this software.  Because of the 3D aspect of it, I use it more to show my teams the tactics part of the game.

How does Sport Session Planner help today’s younger players? The 3D aspect of this is outstanding.  As coaches, we have to do our best to make things as realistic as possible, in training sessions and in meetings.  When you show this to a player it becomes tangible to them.  You can look at the field from different vantage points, showing them a pretty good version of what they will be looking at.

4) REMIND 101

A texting application that allows for easy, quick communication with your team.

How does Remind 101 help today’s younger players?I use this out of ease and convenience with my teams.  This app gives coaches the ability to get information to your team very efficiently.  Whether it be a change in practice time, a link to a YouTube video or any other types of reminder, this app shows the importance of communication.  There is no more, “I didn’t get the memo” excuse, because we all know that most people are attached to their phones.

Today’s younger players are very lucky.  They have easy access to things we only dreamed of having 20 years ago.  On a regular basis, they watch YouTube clips of great goals and amazing saves.  They are playing FIFA with their friends after school.   The game is in front of their eyes them more often than ever.  Coaches have to continue to find ways to make the watching become the doing.  There is no denying that the technology is wonderful, but if the player doesn’t own their development, it’s a waste.  When they see a mistake on a video, they have to work to fix it.  The modeling of the best players and the right way to perform a skill only works if the player is deliberate in their practice.  Technology is just starting to creep into soccer.  This is just the beginning.

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