As the world cup reaches its closing and most exciting stages, the grueling schedule and physical demands of the tournament begin to take a toll on the players. Maintaining peak performance and managing fatigue and injuries become increasingly critical and are a key focus for the coaching staff.
In the case of the German national team (DFB), who take on Brazil in the first semi-final, the management of this part of their game is in safe hands. With the partnership between EXOS, world leaders in integrated performance training, and the adidas miCoach elite Team System, every angle is covered when it comes to ensuring the players will be ready to perform on match day.
The miCoach elite Team System is essentially an advanced physiological monitoring system. It includes a small Player_Cell device worn by the players during training in a Techfit elite under layer that has special fabric heart rate sensors built into it. The system measures the speed, distance, acceleration, heart rate and power of every athlete in training and all this information is made available live on an ipad to the expert trainers from EXOS and the DFB as well as post session for in depth analysis.
To give us more insight into what this means for the German national team and their preparation for the semi-final, we asked Darcy Norman, the Director of the Performance Innovation Team at EXOS, who works with the team at the World Cup, to explain how they use this cutting edge innovation from adidas to ensure the players are at their best for this game and, more importantly, the next:
How EXOS and adidas help to ensure the German national team is always at its best for the next game
By Darcy Norman
“The miCoach elite team system has been an integral part of our preparation and training for the 2014 World Cup. It’s used in almost every training session to monitor each player’s performance and record their stats. With this valuable information, we can reflect back on the team’s performance, tweak each player’s skills, and plan future workouts to ensure we’re improving performance and focusing our efforts in the right areas. There are a variety of metrics the miCoach elite team system is capable of tracking, and each metric can shape the coaching and training decision-making process in a different way.
The power of data is in its interpretation
One of the key metrics we track is power (i.e. how much power a player produces relative to their physiologic response to power). The more power a player generates during an exercise without burning too much energy, the more efficient and fit they are. If they generate a low power number with a large metabolic response, we know they’re fatiguing and that we need to keep a close eye on them.
We can also look at total distance to get a quick snapshot of how much a player moves during a game or workout in comparison to his teammates. From there, we know that not all distance is created equally. Some distance is covered at walking speed, some at sprint speed, some during a drill, and some during the transition from one drill to the next. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when determining how to interpret the data.
Just as there are many ways to accumulate distance, each position and how the player plays their position during drills is different. For example, a defensive midfielder may make the effort or acceleration to cover a big distance at speed but may only go 5-10 meters and then have to stop and change direction. In contrast, an outside defender – based on how they play and the team’s tactics – may cover a greater distance at speed. Both movements are important and relative to the position.
Keeping this in mind, those stats need to be looked at in the context of the game and how the coach wants each player to perform. For a defensive midfielder, we may look at distance in relation to the number of accelerations they made, while we may look at the distance covered, distance at high intensity, and the number of sprints for an outside defender.
From data interpretation to conclusion
Once we’ve established what we want to track, we can set goals. These goals focus on both particular drills and training sessions to plan for the weeks of training in preparation for a single match and in relation to the tournament as a whole.
We look at our drill history to determine which drills fit the particular day technically, tactically, and physically. Once we have a game plan, we execute it, and then look at the numbers during and after training to see if we’re accomplishing our goals. From there, it’s all about fine-tuning for the next day’s training session. While the data is a key component of training smart, it’s what the coaches and players do with that data that ultimately determines the outcome.”
As you can see, the use of the adidas miCoach elite Team System by the German national team at the World Cup, although not as visible as the boots or the uniform, is an essential part of what adidas does to make the teams and athletes better. We are constantly working to push the boundaries and improve the product in a way that enables teams to manage and maintain their physical performance in the most accurate way possible and hopefully we will see Darcy, adidas, EXOS and the German National team on the winner’s podium come Sunday, knowing that they were helped by the cutting edge innovation that is the miCoach elite Team System.