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A New Remote Training and Measurement Tool for Youth Soccer Players

Soccer has become fast and more intense today, requiring all young players to improve their overall performance and adaptability to qualify for major leagues. Player performance is being critically analyzed based on how players adapt their movements to dynamic situations in the game as well as changes in the environment. Hence, training programs and practice drills are required to be designed to improve the young players’ finesse in technique, and develop their cognitive, perceptual, and motor skills to rapidly changing situations. The increasing application of defense strategies, concentration of players in the center of the field, and the unbalance in the number of players that attackers face, requires soccer players to show swift and creative movement patterns throughout the game.

Importance of Regular Training and Measurement for Young Soccer Players

The technical groundwork in practice sessions is significant in developing elite-level techniques and preparing the players. Youth players are thereby required to train regularly and improve their performance. With the change in the youth sports landscape and team sessions for game-related training, players are getting less 1 on 1 time with the ball. To overcome these limitations, many coaches, and trainers are turning toward software-based solutions that will support the youth players training.

The ability to execute skilled movements efficiently and effectively is the principal aspect of soccer performance. Coaches are often spending hours preparing these training sessions. But with the cutthroat competition, simply training does not support the improvement of skills. Measurement of performance and training analysis is the backbone of monitoring the progress of any soccer player. Young aspiring players need to recognize that practice makes permanent. Training for soccer using incorrect techniques can hamper their performance, and therefore a measurement of parameters of training becomes essential.

Impact of Coronavirus on Training

The onset of COVID-19 has decreased the in-person training time that youth players were used to getting, and has made it important for players to find new ways to remain fit and maintain their shape. Coaches are also considering new ideas to connect with their players without being physically present to guide their training drills. Training for any sport is a continuous process throughout a player’s career that requires discipline and dedication. Sports players, especially the young players cannot put a halt on their training due to COVID-19 and resume it once the lockdown rules are lifted as it will only affect their performance adversely and they may not be able to ever get back in form.

Since practice games and travel have been banned at the youth sports level for the foreseeable future, players and coaches have resorted to using remote training tools to continue their training process. Applications on mobile platforms such as Zoom are emerging as the dominant replacement for the in-person coaching. Several soccer training apps have been developed to help coaches in preparing their schedules and training drills to accomplish successful results on the field. Companies are using software technology to fulfilling the goals of sports education, practice, and training needs of young players. Interactive virtual coaching and training apps have skyrocketed in their popularity immediately after COVID-19 hit.

These apps are providing the players with an incredible opportunity to connect with their coaches online and continue their soccer drills remotely. They can connect with their coaches, show them their practice, from any given place without the need to be physically interacting. However, one of the main shortcomings of these remote training tools is their limited ability to measure and analyze the performance of the players during training.

How Can Training and Measurement be Continued Efficiently in the COVID Period

Measuring performance is the real key for being able to build personalized training plans. This is essential in the COVID-19 era since as the coaches cannot physically watch the player playing on the field. Players’ skills measurement technologies that can be accessible to any youth soccer player, can significantly contribute to that. We at PLAYFORM developed a unique application which measure and analyze a set of soccer drills by using smartphone cameras only. Players simply need to use their phone cameras to capture their training in action by recording themselves while performing various soccer drills and our computer vision engine capture both the player and the ball movements and give real time feedback to the players on how they perform each drill and offer them a personalized training sessions to improve their performance. The application automatically monitors the player progress by asking him to re-measure himself from time to time, based on that the application adjust the training plan accordingly. Coaches can also track the progress of their players and for the first time can deep insights on the player performance with no need to use any hardware, wearable or with the use of professional and expensive cameras.

For both young soccer players and coaches, a ‘beautiful game’ is an ongoing pursuit that spans across all seasons and for several years. COVID-19 may have paused in-person training sessions with their coaches, but young soccer players still need to focus on getting the essential training to improve their performance. Even after lockdown restrictions ease out, sporting events and training may not go back to complete normal conditions immediately. Modifications in operating procedures and social distancing may continue to remain the new normal for a long time. Using the support of virtual training apps is not just as a temporary solution but also a permanent option that needs to be considered by both coaches as well as players. There is no better time than now to start using apps such as the PLAYFORM app to sharpen your skills as a player, or to coach your players for the ultimate game success. The abundant resources that these apps provide can accelerate young players toward realizing their soccer training goals and fulfill their dreams of becoming the ultimate soccer superstar!

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