You may have been wondering what the black vest your son wears during training and games is for…
The vest holds a small GPS pod which sits between the player’s shoulder blades. The players also wear a heart rate strap that goes across their chest. These two bits of technology measure data to the accuracy of 10 points per second providing information on distance traveled and heart rate.
So, what do we use the GPS for?
One of the primary uses is to support the coaches with the planning and implementation of the training programme. The Academy uses a grading system where each training session has a targeted physical aim. A hard session is classed as red, a moderate is amber and a green is light. The information we get from the GPS pod and HR strap allow us to track the physical demands of the sessions providing accurate information to the coaches. This then allows for adjustments to be made in future training sessions. Through this process, we are continually improving our training programme for player development.
The information can also be used to help individual player development. When used over longer periods of time, the physical information provided by the pods gives us valuable insight on how the players are progressing. Here we can use the key physical measures like maximal speed, total distance covered, heart rate, accelerations, and decelerations to track a player’s development. We can also use this information to help with the rehabilitation process. A player’s information can be used to provide a physical profile on how they trained and played prior to the injury. This can then be used to make sure they are being fully prepared in the rehabilitation process for their return to training and games.
We also use the technology to help determine if players are at risk of injury. Changes in an individual player’s daily and weekly data might suggest that a player may be compensating for an injury. We use the information from this technology to try to prevent soft-tissue injuries, highlight If a player is overtraining, and ensure that players are training within the correct training zones. This helps players stay out on the pitch longer and ensures they are available for games, which in turn contributes to their overall development within our Academy.
Players must wear the GPS vests during every training session and in games. It is important that we collect information on all sessions and games that the players are involved in; failure to do so for one session can affect the overall data picture for the player.
Everton have a partnership with Ireland-based company StatSports who provide the GPS units. These units are used right across the Club, through to our First Team. You will also see a vast amount of football and other elite sporting teams around the world using the GPS technology.