A collaboration between shirt supplier adidas and property owner Major Soccer League (MLS), the German-headquartered sports equipment and clothing giant has built its MiCoach Elite system into the shirts of every player in every team in the division for the new season.
By expanding the technology tracking trend across an entire professional league, the MiCoach system will enable team coaches and fans to track the real-time performance of the players on the pitch – including speed, power, field position, heart rate and acceleration.
MiCoach was first launched in 2011 embedded in adidas’ revolutionary F50 football boot. The chip records data based on movement. It allows users/wearers to track their performance from speed and acceleration, to power, positioning and heart rate. This information can be uploaded via a dedicated app to a smartphone, tablet or computer where it can be analysed and compared with others in order to improve performance.
For the MLS shirt initiative it fits into a player’s base layer in a protective pocket on the back between the shoulder blades. Connected by a series of electrodes and sensors woven into the fabric of the base layer, the chip wirelessly transmits more than 200 data records per second from each player to a central computer and then is displayed in a series of simplified insights and results on the coach’s iPad.
It’s MLS debut came at the end of July for the MLS match in Philadelphia between a league All Star team and Premiership outfit Chelsea.
Following this game it will be rolled in all games throughout the 2012/13 MLS season to ensure it becomes the world’s first ‘smart league’.
Adidas maintains that the system will help coaches and managers develop highly detailed training regimes and tactical plans to improve performance.
All 19 MLS clubs will use the data tracking technology and the objective is to help coaching staff gain a better understanding of the physical and physiological impact on the team, or any individual, during a game or training session. This can be used to shape, training, and tactics and to reduce overtraining and lower the risk of injury.
‘On-field data tracking is one of the most important elements coaches and trainers use to prepare their teams,’ says Paul Gaudio, Vice President of adidas Interactive.
‘Teams are constantly looking for a competitive edge and the micoach Elite System is a real-time performance monitoring solution for the best teams in the world. With years of research, innovation and development behind it, the micoach Elite System allows coaches and trainers to make informed strategic decisions to maintain collective peak physical performance on the field.’
‘We are proud to partner with our long-term partner Major League Soccer to debut our latest innovation the micoach Elite System at the MLS All-Star Game and then across the league in 2013,’ says adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer. ‘As the paths of sports and technology continue to converge, we are pleased to be pioneering in this area and continue to deliver cutting-edge innovations to teams and leagues worldwide.’
‘Our long-standing partnership with adidas and our combined goal to bring innovative and game-changing experiences to the sport of soccer are key reasons behind the success of Major League Soccer,’ said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. ‘Working with adidas, we are bringing players, coaches and fans across the league a revolutionary technology to help teams perform at the highest level.’
This league-wide professional extension of what has up until now largely been a consumer-led technology service really moves tracking technologies into a new space. Not only is it useful, but it is also monetiseable and has the potential to also bring p[professionals, amateur players and fans all on to the same comparable performance platform.
The personal tracking technology trend and its transformational potential has been in experimental stage for long enough. Noww it is beginning to reach commercial maturity.
How adidas can introduce this umbrella platform into the world-leading European leagues, where teams have their own individual shirt deals rather than leagues having contracts, remains to be seen.
If it takes off for consumers, perhaps fans will start to clamour for more universal systems that span all shirt brands.
After all, if we can have a single universal mobile phone charging adaptor, why not a pan-brand tracking system?