Wearable technology is becoming more and more popular in soccer, and the Missouri State men’s soccer team is no different.
Keeping in step with many professional clubs and national teams, the Bears use a data-tracking system from VXSport, a company that specializes in athlete tracking in soccer and rugby, to do several things like track distance ran, speed, heart rate and overall physical performance.
The players wear a vest under their shirts during both practices and games. The vest has a GPS tracker and a heart rate monitor.
“It’s used to gauge (player) output,” said associate head coach Michael Seabolt, who handles most of the information from the system. “We track a lot of things with the vests, but the two main things are total distance and high-intensity distance.”
Seabolt said high-intensity distance is 22 kilometers per hour, or 13.6 mph.
The total distance run by any player in a match usually is the same across all positions, but high-intensity distance varies greatly between positions.
“A central defender like (senior Ben Stroud) compared to a striker like (senior forward Matt Bentley) — their total distance will be quite similar, but Ben’s high-intensity distance may be half of what Matt does,” Seabolt said.
This helps the coaching staff tailor training regimens to each player.
Players are given the training that fits what they will be doing in a game.
“If someone has had a very hard week, then they might have a rest day,” Stroud said. “Compared to someone that hasn’t ran as much that week — they have to push a bit harder that day or stay and do extra.”
The players also input their own data.
They fill out several forms through the VXSports app every day that include how sore they are, how much sleep they got, what they ate, what they did on days off and how they felt they performed in practice.
This helps when the players are returning from an injury or illness. Stroud missed a few games with a respiratory illness in the middle of the season, and his personal input and the amount of running he was able to do in practice helped the coaches know when he was ready to play in games again.
Seabolt said there are a fair amount of college soccer teams that have similar systems, but the Bears gain an edge in how they use the data.
“I think our attention to detail with it is a little unique,” Seabolt said. “Something that is really important is if the coach is willing to change behaviors. You can have all the data in the world, but if you don’t utilize to to shape and plan your training, what’s the point?”