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    How do GPS vests help train young soccer players?

    Szymon Podstufka

    Journalist of Weszło.com

    – GPS athlete monitoring systems circulate throughout the Polish Ekstraklasa league, but their prices are simply prohibitive for football academies. Nonetheless, they provide an objective image of the training - the kilometers covered, sprints, heart rate, load - at a good price. Thanks to this objectivity, you can draw some concrete conclusions from the training load after a week or after a month. And not just “by the nose” – asserts Jacek Piegza, motor preparation trainer from the Zagłębie Lubin Academy, which has been using the Sonda Sports system for the longest period of time. At the moment, Sonda Sports is the only Polish company in the world that provides such a solution.

    trening KGM Zagłębie z systemem GPS

    Training of the KGHM Zagłębie Lubin Academy with the Sonda Sports system.

    By the nose” - this constitutes one of the problems in training children and young athletes. Is a coach able to precisely determine, using only his own observations, what kind of work his players are doing during the training? What distance have their covered? Do their physical and endurance performance go up, or maybe is it the opposite? There is no great chance for that.

    Let's say you've got a left defender. A great player, good runner, scooting this way and that throughout the entire match. And then you look at his GPS record - he had no acceleration, no sprint. It turns out he was tired all the time. Although he was constantly engaged during the match, he did not regenerate. He wasn't able to go down with the intensity to speed up, to give his max. When fatigue comes into play, sprint will never be as effective as it should – explains Thomas Rozworski, coach from the Reiss Football Academy, who introduced the Sonda Sports GPS monitoring system in his players.

    heatmapa wybranego zawodnika podczas treningu akademii KGHM Zagłębie Lubin

    Heatmap of a selected player from the Zagłębie Lubin Academy.

    Recently, this system was also introduced in another academy from the region of Greater Poland - the one belonging to Lech Poznań. The club, thanks to the cooperation with clubs from all over Europe, can not only collect data from the Sonda Sports system but also compare it with those from the best leagues.

    We analyze things from such mundane aspects as the distance travelled, to the more advanced ones, such as the accumulation of training and match effort in a player. We try to relate this to players worldwide, from different clubs from which we have obtained data. This gives us a reference point, so now we know our current situation. Players can also find out for themselves how they should develop, and how we want this development to go. It is easier to reach the player when you can show him hard numbers and not just judge him by the nose. Everything is on black and white - did he run his distance on high or low intensity, the number of sprints, the number of fast runs, the number of accelerations – asserts Marcin Wróbel, the director at Lech Poznań Academy.

    Jacek Piegza from the Zagłębie Lubin Academy has a similar approach: – The most important thing for us is whether the player gave his best during the match. We compare data with the first team and with other western academies. On this basis we are able to set goals for the players.

    At a time similar as Lech Poznań, i.e. in the summer of this year, the Górnik Zabrze Football Academy also decided to launch cooperation with Sonda Sports.

    Nałożone na siebie wykresy osiąganych szybkości i tętna zawodnika

    Set of the player's speed and heart rate charts.

    Number of accelerations, sprints, distance covered. These are very interesting and useful indicators for us, the coaches. We also often look at the chart of a player's work - what is his rate of restitution after explosive activities. Is the player able to regenerate himself during the training, return to low heart rate after a short break. For us, this is yet another contribution to building awareness of our boys and knowledge amongst coaches. – asserts Radosław Osadnik, coach of CLJ U-18 team at Górnik Zabrze.

    Having data is one thing, but using it appropriately is another. The coaches assert that sometimes the player's data obtained thanks to the GPS monitoring strongly influences the shape of the training and allows to adjust it to the player's body. Thomas Rozworski from Reiss Academy claims: – We have a man responsible for reading this data and he noticed that a few players may not be so much overtrained, but you can see from them that the training was too hard. In such a situation, when we see that the restitution is not at the normal level, we can pass the player to the coach for individual sessions. He doesn't go to higher loads then, we give him "aerobic holidays". This is definitely better than letting the whole team go - if the guys reach the top league operating according to the Wednesday-Saturday match rhythm, you can engage in such things. But it is our role to prepare them for it.

    Trening Akademii Lecha Poznań

    Apart from the first team of Lech Poznań, the GPS monitoring also includes the substitutes and juniors from the Academy in Wronki (on the photo).

    Robert Lewandowski, who constantly wants to improve himself and becomes an even more complete footballer year after year, constitutes a great example that triggers imagination. That is why today's teenage football candidates want to move their boundaries further and further, following “Lewy's” example. They want to show that they are the best. The data they obtain thanks to the Sonda Sports measurement system allows them to control their progress. The company also provides a phone application for footballers so that they can have access to their data at any time.

    I download all the data practically right after the training, the players have them on their mobiles half an hour after the game. It is a nicely done thing adjusted to a generation for whom mobile phones constitute a natural environment. The players want the data themselves. There's no one who thinks otherwise. It works on the basis of positive motivation. I make small general summaries for them after small games, after matches, so that they can check them out later. Thus they compete in a positive way – praises Jacek Piegza.

    At the Reiss Academy, they went a step further. – We've trained the guys on which parameters should be of most interest to them. Every week we also post letters with match parameters at the cloakrooms in Opalenica and at the school. List are broken down into the first half, the second half, and data in relation to game time. Maximum speed, distance, player loads, acceleration, sprints. No names, no numbers, so that someone on the outside won't say anything. And the guys can compare them with each other, they know the brackets that they should fit in. Sometimes they stand there waiting for this list to appear – asserts Thomas Rozworski from the Reiss Academy.

    analiza danych z systemu GPS Sonda Sports

    Young Cracovia players waiting for their first GPS data.

    The neighbor from Lech praise the Sonda Sports for yet another aspect – adapting to the needs of their Academy. – The company is very keen to grow, and we needed someone who could personalize services to our expectations. Sonda Sports wants to be on a par with the best, thus it makes changes to the program based on what we send them in a flash.

    Let us repeat it once again - it is a great pride that there is finally a Polish company on the market of GPS tracking systems in sports, which aims at rubbing elbows on the market and which already provides services to customers not only in our country. The services of Sonda Sports are also used by Macclesfield Town (English League Two) and rugby players from the South African Emirates Lions. Sonda Sports is not only focused on football, it is a solution applicable in other sports as well.

    In the past, of course, they used to train without GPS tracking and were able to achieve results too. But football is changing, today you have to look for small advantages and use new technologies, take into account as many factors as possible and predict the components. All this in order to leave as little as possible of the entire process to chance – summarizes Marcin Wróbel.

    The text was published on the Weszlo.com portal.

    Szymon Podstufka

    Journalist of Weszło.com

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