What do cars, phones and Phoenix Rising players have in common? GPS

Sep 7, 2017, 3:59 PM
Phoenix Rising FC uses STATSports Viper technology to maximize conditioning as well as recover from...
Phoenix Rising FC uses STATSports Viper technology to maximize conditioning as well as recover from injury (Photo by Eric Newman/Cronkite News)
(Photo by Eric Newman/Cronkite News)

TEMPE, Ariz. — After suffering a right groin injury, Matthew Watson’s recovery was accelerated by learning he favored his left leg during competition. How did the Phoenix Rising FC defender find out?

His wireless half-shirt, equipped with GPS, told him.

As technological advances have become an integral part of professional athletic training, the Rising have utilized electronics in helping to prevent and recover from injuries and fatigue in a long United Soccer League season.

Watson said the built-in gyroscope in his STATSPort Viper was essential in his recovery. The tool sensed he was using one side more than other and the data accelerated the healing process.

“They’ve kind of measured me against what I’ve done in my last game to help and see how I’ve recovered in ground covered, my top speed, my balance,” Watson said.

An observer at Phoenix Rising practice can see players training in the wireless attire, which also include an accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitors and more. It collects as much data as possible in training and matches, all of which is stored a computer accessible to the team.

The data serves to not only track statistics over time, but also provides graphics for coaches to track players’ positions on the field and movements in real time from a computer or TV monitor.

The systems, which the website says are used by over half of the teams in Europe’s Champions League, still have not fully immersed themselves into soccer all over the world. Rising midfielder Kevon Lambert, who played for Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, said that even his international team rarely used training data in a run to the tournament’s final.

The data provides Phoenix, who is currently fighting for a spot in the USL playoffs, a step up on the competition with vast information for coaches and training staff to use.

“Any GPS system’s goal is to monitor or quantify the overall workload of training and games, and be able to establish a norm for what we need them to be able to do specific days,” athletic trainer Brennen Hodge said.

Hodge and the rest of the training staff said they build individual profiles for the players based on positions and their roles on the team. The staff knows that just like each player is in a different level of shape, they have different responsibilities that require various movements on the pitch.

The goal is not necessarily to make the players work harder than any other team, but rather to work smarter. The staff wants to keep conditioning up, while not overworking the players so they are not ready come game day to play at their best, and the technology helps to add more information into that equation.

“Right now we play a very organized defensive game with a fast counterattack, and so we know our outside backs and wingers are going to need to make very long, fast, 40-yard plus sprints,” he said. “So we know in training that we need to be able to maintain that ability.”

Coach Patrice Carteron said that data has even been used in part to assign starting roles and playing time throughout the year.

“Sometimes when we have the choice between two players, if you feel like right now one player is ready to give 100 percent, he is running much more on the field than his friend, it can help you to decide,” Carteron said.

The one thing, however, that cannot get lost in the innovation is the human aspect of the game, and no amount of technology can truly measure just how an athlete is feeling.

Though he has have become accustomed to suggestions from trainers, Watson got to a high enough level to play professional soccer by playing as hard as possible, and it is not always easy to hear that it might be time to take a break or sit out for some of training.

“I want to run my hardest every day regardless of the numbers, but that’s just me,” Watson said. “I use it as a mark for my fitness, but when I get into the game I don’t think about it, I’m just playing football.”

What the Viper systems do then, are provide another tool at the disposal of the Rising’s coaches to have players ready come match day.

Carteron and the staff know that what matters is the result at the end of the match, but Vipers have made the work to get there just a bit easier.

“Football is a technical game. We do the best for the players to be ready physically, but after this, tactical work is also very important. But it’s interesting for us to have all this information,” he said.

Cronkite Sports

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets i...
Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.
7 months ago
Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...
Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.
1 year ago
(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...
Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.
1 year ago
New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...
Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.
1 year ago
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...
Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.
1 year ago
Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...
Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.
1 year ago
What do cars, phones and Phoenix Rising players have in common? GPS