April 1, 2019
How US Soccer develops the superstars of tomorrow using tech
This article appeared first here.
“Evangelo Spartiatis, 18, still remembers seeing professional soccer players on Facebook and Instagram wearing “some vest” during training. “What is that?” he recalls thinking. “Why are they wearing it?” Well, as it turns out, what was once a curiosity for him three years ago is, now, something he’s all too familiar with. That “vest” Spartiatis talks about is part of a GPS-tracking system he has to wear every day he trains at the Atlanta United Academy, where he plays for the Under-19 development team of the current Major League Soccer (MLS) champion. He’s one of Atlanta United’s 155 youth players training with the Apex GPS, a wearable designed to measure their distance covered, acceleration, deceleration, speed and work rate.
Developed by STATSports, a company founded in 2008 in Northern Ireland, the Apex Athlete Monitoring system consists of a vest that goes between a player’s shoulder blades and a small, lightweight GPS device that attaches to it. During a typical training session, its system will collect millions of data points from players, which, STATSports says, can be streamed to a laptop, smartphone, tablet or smartwatch in real time. This allows coaches and training staff to monitor a player’s performance live, both in training or in an actual match. If a player isn’t covering ground they’re supposed to, or if they’re not running as fast as they could, the team’s staff will know immediately.
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