Taking Sports Analytics to the Next Level

Major League Soccer literally made a heart-pounding announcement last Thursday when it unveiled plans to use the new adidas micoach Elite System on Wednesday when the MLS All-Stars take on Chelsea.

Billed as the world’s first “smart game,” the micoach system will be placed in players’ uniforms, tracking movement, force, heart rates and more in real-time. Data will be sent to an iPad or other device that will help coaches and training staff monitor athletes, providing the first real internal view of what an athlete’s body goes through during actual high level competition. All MLS teams will be using it for training during the 2013 season.

“It will be interesting, I think as time goes by we’ll see more and more applications,” says MLS executive Nelson Rodriguez. “I think the analysis will get sharper and deeper, but it’s certainly a very exciting opportunity. It’s been fascinating. The data will gain in importance once a dataset is established, so the longer you use the system and the more data you acquire, the deeper your analysis can be.”

In development for over two years by adidas, with some of the top teams in the world on board, including Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, micoach actually uses a lot of commercially available technology, like a gyroscope, accelerometer and GPS tracking (which anyone with an iPhone also has in their pocket) in a round tic tac box sized cell that is worn in a compression shirt in a pocket between their shoulder blades. There’s also a small tracker placed in their shoe to measure force of a kick and distance travelled. The tech reportedly sends 200 data records per player per second to a central computer, which are then simplified and synthesized and sent to coaches.

The potential ramifications and uses are far-reaching. For soccer alone, it could measure the force of a kick scoring, or even potentially, if a player is forced down or is flopping.

Great video below that showcases the technology


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