As the 2014 World Cup reaches the final round, physical demands of the tournament begin to take a toll on the players. Maintaining peak performance while managing fatigue and injuries has been critical as Germany and Argentina worked their way into the finals. Coaching staff and trainers from each team are tuned in more than ever, and some are using technology to get an edge on the competition.
Take the German national team (DFB), which crushed Brazil in the first semi-final match. They become the first team to score 5 goals in the first 29 minutes of a World Cup game. Leading up to that match, Germany was averaging one goal every 39 minutes, requiring only 5.3 attempts to put the ball in the net.
Going into the final, DFB stands as the 2014 scoring leader with 17 goals, which is five ahead of Netherlands and Colombia, and nine more than Argentina.
While this success can be attributed to many things, it could all be traced back to the role and method of preparation.
The German team has gone to great lengths to ensure their world-class players can perform at their peak. In fact, the team built their own private, state-of-the-art camp in Brazil to station their players in comfortable accommodations during their stay in the jungle.
But possibly more essential to their success is the team’s partnership with EXOS, world leaders in integrated performance training, and the Adidas miCoach Elite Team System, which is used it to monitor player performance in training sessions.
The miCoach Elite Team System is essentially an advanced physiological monitoring system. It includes a small Player_Cell device worn by the players during training in a Techfit elite under layer that has special fabric heart rate sensors built into it.
The system measures the speed, distance, acceleration, heart rate and power of every athlete in training, and all this information is made available live on an iPad to the expert trainers from EXOS and the DFB, as well as post session for in-depth analysis.
“The miCoach Elite Team System has been an integral part of our preparation and training for the 2014 World Cup,” said Darcy Norman, the director of the Performance Innovation Team at EXOS, in an interview on the Adidas Group Blog.
The technology is used in almost every training session to monitor each player’s performance and record their stats, according to Norman. Having detailed performance data allows coaches and trainers to fine tune each player’s skills and plan workouts that focus on particular areas of need.
“There are a variety of metrics the miCoach Elite Team System is capable of tracking, and each metric can shape the coaching and training decision-making process in a different way,” said Norman
Analysis of the data can also help identify which players are fit versus those who could use a rest.
“One of the key metrics we track is power (i.e., how much power a player produces relative to their physiologic response to power),” Norman said. “The more power a player generates during an exercise without burning too much energy, the more efficient and fit they are. If they generate a low power number with a large metabolic response, we know they’re fatiguing and that we need to keep a close eye on them.”
In addition to power and energy levels measured by miCoach, Norman and her team can also understand the distance the player traveled and how hard he worked over that distance.
It also helps them understand the difference in movements between the various positions.
“A defensive midfielder may make the effort or acceleration to cover a big distance at speed, but may only go 5-10 meters and then have to stop and change direction,” explained Norman. “In contrast, an outside defender – based on how they play and the team’s tactics – may cover a greater distance at speed. Both movements are important and relative to the position.”
Coaches and trainers establish what they want miCoach to track, and they can then set goals
“These goals focus on both particular drills and training sessions to plan for the weeks of training in preparation for a single match and in relation to the tournament as a whole,” said Norman.
The use of the Adidas miCoach Elite Team System by the German national team at the World Cup, although not as visible as the boots or the uniform, is a great example of one of the best teams playing in Brazil using all tools and innovations available to play their best.
If we see Norman, Adidas, EXOS and the German National team on the winner’s podium come Sunday, knowing that they were helped by the cutting-edge innovation that is the miCoach Elite Team System, it will be a big day for technology in the world sports.