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Cutting-edge technology implemented on hockey field at Waterstone College

The Waterstone College’s Soccer Academy recently introduced the much-talked-of Playermaker technology and became the first South African football academy/school to have this innovative athlete performance tracking platform at its disposal.

Designed for football at every level, Playermaker consists of a smart motion sensor strapped to players’ boots which then detects valuable data to help improve a player’s game.

To read the data, the sensor must be removed from the boot and plugged into the sensor box. The data provides the players and coaching staff with insights on the technical, tactical and physical analysis. 

According to Waterstone College’s Head of Soccer, Gavin Andrew, “this is a valuable tool to have in any soccer academy. Once the sensor is attached to the boots, it analyses various key performance Indicators and we have accurate data in Excel format. After training, each player receives his report/data on total touches, leg use percentage, distance covered, HID, intense speed changes and work rate.”

“Although players only get a summary of their performance, coaches get in-depth data on the players’ progress,” he adds.

Most football teams currently make use of technology such as GPS vests to analyse players’ performance. GPS vests mostly track players' speed, distance covered and heart rate. Playermaker does not record heart rate but various other tactical and technical data which is important for tracking the game of younger players.

“During the lockdown we were researching ways to improve our training programme by using technology and came across various tools. The aim was to find an in-depth tracking technology tool that will give us more insights about both the technical and tactical aspects and Playermaker was exactly what we were looking for. The footwear device is placed on over 100 players’ boots at the school and has exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Andrew said.

Last week the Department of Basic Education announced that all contact sport in schools be suspended with immediate effect. This meant that the Waterstone College soccer team is yet to get a chance to have a competitive match since the introduction of the technology.

“We haven’t played other schools yet due to the lockdown, but our goal is to help improve our players' technical and tactical aspects of the game, to take their football knowledge to another level and to, where possible, help them obtain scholarships,” he concludes.

Jacques Nel, Executive Head of Waterstone College, adds, “the Playermaker is an incredible product and we are excited about the results. Not only does it improve the players’ skills, but it also improves our coaches' knowledge."