5 high-tech football gadgets to improve your game
by Pablo M26th Nov 2021
Practice makes perfect, but repetition without good feedback can set bad habits. That is why a good football coach, particularly in the formation years, is so important. Unfortunately, you can’t take your coach home. That is where high-tech football gadgets can help.
The market is inundated with apps and websites that help you organise your teams, plan sessions and more. But when it gets to high-tech, there is not much available outside professional equipment that costs a fortune or requires a complex commercial agreement with your club. Below we have collected products that you can buy from Amazon or Soccer.com at a reasonable price.
We listed the products below, from those more accessible that can help you with your individual skills to those that are more expensive and typically used to develop team performance.
There are not many high-tech football gadgets in this category. In fact, Adidas discontinued their product, which was an actual smart ball. We assume that one reason for terminating their product was that it used sensors and electronics inside the ball, a costly approach requiring high-quality materials that withstand heavy impacts and the usual wear and tear of a soccer ball. Therefore, with the evolution of AI and image processing technologies available at the fingertips of your smartphone, other approaches have superseded the use of electronics inside the ball.
One of these products that took advantage of the technology available in your phone is DribbleUp. The DribbleUp Smart Soccer ball is not actually a smart ball. Instead, the “smarts” are in the mobile application you must install on your phone. The ball has a unique marking that is tracked using your camera and vision technology. This way, the software records every movement from the ball in real-time. This product is intended for kids, but it is suitable for anyone new to football.
Smart balls based on vision technology usually come accompanied by virtual training and on-demand classes. Players can take a variety of classes to improve footwork, stamina, and confidence.
DribbleUp Smart Ball
Hand-stitched, match quality soccer ball that connects to the DribbleUp app.
Adidas Smart Ball
Integrated sensors record strike point, speed, spin and trajectory when you kick the ball.
Like with smart balls, manufacturers have taken a variety of approaches. However, all of them use sensors that communicate with a mobile app. For example, Playmaker manufactures straps with sensors, while Adidas sells a smart insole.
The Playmaker strap uses a 6-axis motion smart sensor with gyroscope and accelerometer that samples movement events at 1000 times/sec, which allows the measurement of every micro-movement, including impact with the ground, impact with the ball, and the rotation of each foot. This way, and with the help of a mobile app, Playmaker tracks your touches, ball releases, average duration on the ball, one-touch and short/long possessions throughout your entire session. In addition, it also tracks your speed, acceleration, sprint distance, distance covered and work rate during the whole training session with the ball or without the ball.
The Adidas GMR system comprises two physical components: the Jacquard Tag and a special insole to insert the tag. Like Playmaker, the Jacquard Tag has built-in a gyroscope and an accelerometer that syncs to a mobile app. Although both products are very similar concepts, this product has the backing of three giants: Google, Adidas and Easports. The Jacquard Tag is a product developed by Google that was modified for Adidas and Easports partnered with Adidas to turn your kicks and moves on the pitch into FIFA Mobile rewards. You can compete in weekly challenges to level up your team, dominate leaderboards and earn your bragging rights.
Reviews of both products are mixed, showing that the technology still needs improvements. However, at a lower entry cost, we feel Adidas is better positioned to evolve their product unless one of their competitors acquires Playmaker to develop it further.
Playermaker Activity Tracker
Playermaker analyzes both physical and technical data, breaking it down by each foot.
adidas GMR Pack
The GMR Tag fits into the insole to measure your shot power, distance travelled, running speed and number of kicks.
These high-tech football gadgets improve the player’s reaction ability and coordination. The concept is simple, a bunch of tiles or pods with lights and pressure sensors are controlled from an application in your mobile that includes training exercises and features to track your progress.
Reaction systems improve the thought processing, memory, and decision-making mechanisms linked to motor tasks. The continuous stimuli sent to the neuro-motor system facilitate the automatism of movements and improve reaction and speed. In summary, by consistently using this technology, your decision making at game time will improve.
While reaction systems are not explicitly designed for football, you can see how you can create clever football drills with a bit of imagination. For example, you can lay them in the ground and run from pod to pod with the ball as they lit up. Or you can attach them to the goalposts for shooting drills. In addition, with not much technology available for goalkeepers to practice at home, reaction systems are a great solution to keep them working on their reflex outside training sessions.
BlazePod Flash Reflex and Reaction Training LED Light Pods
Pair the pods with the app to create training experiences that push you to new limits.
J&A Jason Aerobic Reaction Lights Training System
Pods with sounds and agility lights to improve reflex, focus, exercise for leisure or fun for all ages.
These high-tech football gadgets were out in the market way before smart cleats and insoles. Thus, professional teams have been using it for years now. Both technologies overlap in some aspects, such as tracking movement in the field, but they fulfil different objectives. For example, while smart shoes focus on ball control, GPS trackers focus on field movement and physical load (e.g., heart rate). Ideally, if your finances allow it, you would include both technologies in your training.
Like most high-tech football gadgets described so far, GPS trackers require an application to analyse the data. This is particularly beneficial to study players movement in the field and to prevent injuries. The data collected help coaches and players monitor athlete loading to reduce the risk of preventable injuries. Some of these systems, such as Catapult, also include features to analyse goalkeepers performance. For example, they can access metrics such as dive quantity, dive direction, dive intensity and jumps to quantify the workload of the goalkeeper.
STATSports APEX Athlete Series
GPS Tracker used by players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Mo Salah.
Includes FIFA-approved pod, vest, charging dock, carrying case, and a one-year Catapult One membership.
Recording games and training sessions is nothing new. However, the main issue with traditional cameras is that you need someone operating them. This may not be a problem at a professional level, but it is definitely a role that very few are happy to fulfil in the amateur context. In addition, a single traditional camera won’t give you good enough footage unless you happen to play in stadiums or a place where you can position the camera above ground level. Furthermore, after recording, someone has to edit the video. Cameras specifically designed for sports overcome these limitations.
Cameras designed for football (and other team sports) can record and live-stream your football matches without the need of a cameraman. In addition, they often include AI and vision technology that can detect goals, kickoff, corner kicks and free kicks. Finally, cameras such as the Veo Sport Camera include a special tripod (7 meters high or more) that is handy in fields where stands or platforms to mount them are not available.
These cameras are often sold with an application to install on your mobile or tablet and subscription. This software helps teams analyse their matches and training sessions in real-time with the players on the field or watch them at the end of the training session or game.
Above all the team performance benefits of using these systems, recording your football games is fun!