What this could mean for the league is and coaching in particular is largely uncharted. With real time metrics and statistics, coaches will have a new method of gauging player progress on the field. Players recovering from injury, trying a new position, and trying to round out their game will be given the opportunity to do so in a revolutionary manner.
Runners have been using chips embedded in their shoes for years, heart rate monitors and stat tracking is the norm for professional athletes. Rather than speculate on how the miCoach Elite System is different from this, Simon Drabble from adidas was kind enough to answer some questions on the technology and what it could mean for the future of Major League Soccer.
Luke Lohr: Simply put, what is Adidas miCoach?
Simon Drabble: miCoach is a service platform from adidas to help people get better for their sport. miCoach uses interactive technology to coach you to truly get better. We help people realize their potential and achieve it
SD: The Unique piece is really "Coaching". We help people understand who they are from a sports perspective and help them understand who they can become. In doing this, we use data to highlight their abilities, we allow them to compare that to others (friends, athletes), we show them their strengths and their weaknesses and we help them achieve their goal by coaching them through a training plan that is specific to their needs. miCoach has thousands of training plans that are cardio, pace or strength and flexibility based which can be combined to give an athlete the best results. Ultimately, we make people better and coaching plays a major role in that
LL: miCoach was featured in recent Major League Soccer events. How was that relationship developed and what was the result of the technologies use?
SD: MLS has a unique ability to bring the micoach Elite System across an entire league of teams, making it the first smart league in the world. We have a shared vision to bring innovative and game-changing experiences to the sport of soccer. We are proud of our long-standing partnership with MLS and are excited to debut this new technology in partnership with them.
LL: Can you explain the benefits that come with using miCoach? How can MLS teams utilize the technologies to improve their club? Is this a tool mainly for coaches to understand tactics or rather for trainers to best diagnose workout regimens or regeneration procedures?
SD: "The tool is primarily for physical performance training. Tactical training was not defined as a key priority for the solution and therefore we have focused on creating a suite of tools that are specific to the needs of Physical performance monitoring."
"The micoach Elite System includes a small data cell that fits into a player's base layer in a protective pocket on the back between the shoulder blades. Connected by a series of electrodes and sensors woven into the fabric of the base layer, the cell wirelessly transmits more than 200 data records per second from each player to a central computer and then is displayed in a series of simplified insights and results on the coach's tablet. At the touch of his fingertips, a coach can monitor the work load of an individual player, compare one athlete with another or view the whole team to gain a complete picture of the 90-minute game. Key data points include Speed, Distance, Heart Rate, Acceleration, Power and Training Efficiency."
LL: It would seem that the possibilities of using miCoach technology are not yet fully known or realized to the general public. What can the technology do down the road for athletic franchises in general and MLS in particular?
SD: "There is clearly a significant opportunity at hand here. The primary focus was to develop the best tool for monitoring and developing the physical performance of every player that a team has on its roster. From influencing in-game managerial decisions, such as substitutions and team tactics, to analyzing trends to prevent over training and risk of injury, the technology will help maintain optimum levels of player performance week in, week out throughout the season."
LL: How can the common consumer, soccer player or casual athlete use Adidas miCoach? I've seen Xbox360 games branding the tame, but what can this mean to them?
SD: "There are a variety of tools that we provide to the consumer level. We take inspirations from our work with athletes, teams and associations and look to bring innovative solutions to consumers for their sporting needs. The miCoach Console game is a great example. We have worked with 17 athletes to create an in home training experience where you can train alongside the athlete as they show you how to do the workouts. It is motivational and rewarding as the exercises are all based on the way the pros are working out in their own routines."
"Out of the home, miCoach has products such as the miCoachSpeed_Cell which provides on field/on court monitoring in Soccer, Basketball and Tennis. The miCoach Speed_cell can be inserted in to the base of a compatible shoe and it will monitor your speed, distance, intensity as well as sprints, bursts and time of activity. This is technology that has never existed for these sports and is clearly giving the consumer a greater understanding of how they train or play so we can then help them improve through coaching."
"miCoach Mobile apps are available on a variety of platforms with cardio and pace based monitoring are available for anyone who includes running as a part of their training plan. In these products we have the unique feature of real time audio coaching whereby a user is guided through each workout with audio feedback that instructs people to run faster or slow down, depending on the target of that specific workout."
"Ultimately, we have a range of solutions for anyone who is keen to improve for their sport or just to improve their general levels of fitness"
Just looking at the statistics from the All-Star game, fans are able to see the value of Chris Pontius and Steven Beitashour, two players who are not traditionally spoken with alongside the likes of David Beckham or Thierry Henry. This not only lends credibility to the technology's value in spotting trends that may not be readily apparent. Carlos Valdes did not show immediate value but when you break down the numbers, heat maps and miCoach analysis, his value is evident.
What might this technology mean in the immediate future for those willing to take advantage? Consider a player like Clint Dempsey who has been away from first team action, how might his efforts in getting match fit be enhanced during practice? How might his training regimen change if they can track the amount of ground covered, average speed and acceleration to the ball? Possibilities are at an all-time high for players and coaches.
As Drabble states, the longstanding relationship with Major League Soccer provides a wealth of opportunity for all involved. Utilizing this technology could be what helps take MLS to the next step among top flight leagues in the world.