Make your Sunday League team as ‘smart’ as Borussia Dortmund with IoT

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IoT can help make your football team smarter

How, exactly, is IoT changing competitive sports? And how might you, reader, go about making your own modest Sunday League team as ‘smart’ as the likes of AC Milian, Borussia Dortmund and Brazil?

We asked Catapult, a world leader in the field and responsible for connecting all three (as well as Premier League clubs including Tottenham, West Brom, Newcastle, West Ham and Norwich) exactly how the average sporting Joe could go about it. Here’s what the big teams are increasingly doing, in five easy steps.

Link-up play

The technology itself consists of a small wearable device that sits (a little cyborg-y) at the top of the spine under the uniform, measuring every aspect of an athlete’s movement using GPS antenna and motion sensors. The measurements include acceleration, deceleration, change of direction and strength – as well as more basic things like speed, distance and heart rate.

Someone’s going to have to take a bit of time off work though! You’ll be looking at a one- or two-day installation on-site with the team, where a sports scientist would set you up with the software.

Nominate a number cruncher

All the raw data you’ll collect is then put through algorithms that provide position-specific and sport-specific data output to a laptop. Many of Catapult’s Premier League and NFL clients hire someone specifically to analyse the massed data. Any of your team-mates work in IT or accountancy?

Tackle number crunching

Now you’ve selected your data analyst, you’ll want to start them out on the more simple metrics. Everyone understands distance, for instance (probably the easiest way to understand how hard an athlete has worked). From there you can look at speed. Combine the two and you’ll have a fuller picture of how much of a shift Dean and Dave have really put in (hangovers notwithstanding).

Beyond this, you can start looking at how quickly you and your team mates accelerate (not very, probably), and the effect of deceleration on your intensity afterward. Deceleration is usually the most harmful to tissue injuries.

Higher still up the spectrum of metrics, you can encounter a patented algorithm called inertial movement analysis, used to capture ‘micro-movements’ and the like.

Pay up!

Don’t worry, you won’t have to actually buy all the gear (which could well mean your entire team re-mortgaging its homes): most of Catapult’s clients rent the devices…

However, you’ll still be looking at about £100 per unit/player per month, a fairly hefty additional outlay.

Surge up your Sunday League!

However, if you are all sufficiently well-heeled (not to mention obsessively competitive) to make that kind of investment, the benefits could be significant.

Florida State Football’s Jimbo Fisher recently credited the technology with reducing injuries 88 per cent. It’s one of number of similarly impressive success stories: reducing injuries is Catapult’s biggest selling point, meaning player shortages and hastily arranged stand-ins could be a thing of the past.

Of course if the costs sound a bit too steep, don’t worry: although the timescale is up in the air, Catapult is ultimately planning to head down the consumer route.

The day could yet come, in the not too distant future, when every team is smart!

How will the Wearables market will continue to change and evolve? Jim Harper (Director of Sales and Business Development, Bittium) will be leading a discussion on this very topic at this year’s Internet of Things World Europe (Maritim Pro Arte, Berlin 6th – 7th October 2015)