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Can technology make you a better footballer?

Posted by Chris King on 23rd August 2018

Earlier this year a group of us at Wildfire decided, in our infinite wisdom, that it would be a good idea to join a local five-a-side football league, and so Wildfire Wanderers was born.

An outlet for our footballing skill, creativity and tactical nous, we let ourselves get carried away with thoughts of silverware and catching the attention of Premier League scouts.

But let’s be honest… We’re a few games into our second season and it’s not been going that well. Of the 18 fixtures we’ve played so far, we’re yet to register a win and we’ve been on the receiving end of more than a few thrashings.

Our early excuses about lack of fitness and ‘chemistry’ have given way to the cold harsh truth that we’re just not very good.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that BBC Click’s latest feature suggests that there might be ways in which technology can make you a better footballer — because clearly we need all the help we can get.

Now, it’s fair to say that technology has become a big part of football in recent years with the adoption of VAR and goal-line technology helping to make referees’ job easier. And helping to make the key decisions during matches at major tournaments fairer and more consistent (in theory, at least).

But with more of a focus on enhancing performance, there’s also a wealth of clubs using wearable electronic performance and tracking systems and analytics from the likes of Opta to capture and monitor huge swathes of data — as this great video from Wired and Audi shows.

In an ideal world we’d all get ourselves Playertek vests and devices and analyse the 2,500 measurements per second the device takes on our performance in the pub after the match.

To have data like that to hand would certainly highlight the drop off in our performance levels after two minutes, and show us we are not fit enough or working hard enough.

Playertek also includes a facility where a player can check their individual performance in relation to others in the same game to create some internal competition. I know in that scenario I’d certainly be more likely to give a little bit extra to avoid finishing bottom in terms of distance covered, sprints or sprint speed.

However, Playertek is probably all a bit expensive and serious for us… So we might have to make do with the $129.99 DribbleUp — a smart football that tracks and grades your performance in drills using an augmented reality app.

Unfortunately, BBC Click’s conclusion seems to be that it may be a while until technology can really improve a player’s game. So, in the meantime, to quote the words of our tricky left winger Sanjay Dove, “we’re going to need a#$@&%*! miracle to make us good at football.”

Chris King

Chris’s extensive experience of agency PR, ‘can-do’ attitude and track record for achieving outstanding results time after time make him a firm favourite amongst clients. His PR degree and natural teaching skills makes him a popular team leader and an expert mentor.