ISEA Blog Challenge Winner – Situation Awareness Wearable

In March 2018, the Football Technology Innovation Department attended the International Sport Engineering Association (ISEA) Conference in Brisbane, Australia.

FIFA held a half-day workshop to engage with sport engineers and researchers from across the globe with the aim to strengthen ties and create new collaboration opportunities with the sports engineering community.

Attendees of the workshop were given the opportunity to take part in a blog challenge with the winner getting the opportunity to have a summary of their research published on FIFA’s Innovation Blog. Each submission had to include an overview of their research accompanied by an infographic. This year’s winner is Thomas McGuckian, a PHD candidate from the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University in Queensland, Australia. Thomas’s blog piece on player’s situation awareness and how to use it in training beat off competition from multiple other submissions to take first prize. Thomas’s piece can be found below:

Using wearable technology to develop creative players.

The use of wearable technology has been rapidly increasing in football over the past decade. Wearable devices that measure physiological data have been developed to allow players to train more effectively: heartrate monitors to ensure that training occurs in specific training zones; real-time lactic acid monitors to tailor training methods to each player’s personal limits; sleep activity sensors to help optimise sleep quality. Other wearable devices have been developed to measure positional data, allowing coaches to assess individual and team metrics such as distances covered at various velocity bands or team formation and structure.

One untapped area that has huge potential is the use of wearable technology to develop creative players through improving their situation awareness. Situation awareness can be described as a player’s awareness of environmental information and their ability to use this information effectively. The most creative footballers, such as Xavi, Iniesta, Pirlo and Messi, are able to play passes which completely break open a game due to their exceptional situation awareness. Players have this awareness because they explore (i.e. scan) the field by continuously turning their head before they receive the ball.

“I was turning my head in all directions, I was nicknamed 'the girl from "The Exorcist"'. I do not turn my head to 360 degrees like her, but there are games where I have rotated mine more than 500 times”

Xavi Hernández, Former FC Barcelona player (3rd Party Quote)

“Before I receive the ball, I quickly look to see which players I can give it to. Always be aware of who is around you”

Andres Iniesta, Former FC Barcelona player (3rd Party Quote)

The research team at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, Australia, has developed a Situation Awareness Technology System (SATS); a wearable technology that allows coaches to automatically monitor the head and trunk movement of players throughout a game or training session. With the data, we assist coaches to discover which players are scanning effectively throughout a game, which players need to develop their scanning, and how the scanning relates to a players’ passing, movement and overall performance. The data can also be used to evaluate training design, ultimately ensuring the drills are developing the situation awareness and creative ability of players.

Using SATS we have been able to assess positional differences in scanning and identify relationships between players’ scanning and performance during 11v11 match-play. The system is at a point where we are able to provide support and analysis for teams wishing to gain an insight into the scanning behaviours of their players in training and match-play. In addition, the technology can be applied in other areas that involve or affect situation awareness, such as refereeing or injury prevention and treatment.

Click on the link to download the infographic on situation awareness wearable