What is it?
The smart vest is a GPS powered fitness tracker designed by wearable tech giants Catapult Sports. The kit measures distance covered, top speed, sprint distance and total number of sprints and then compares your data to pro players. FFT decided to find out how our fitness compares to the game’s biggest stars.
More after the break
How does it work?
The pod is activated by pressing a circular power button, with a green light indicating it is charged and ready for action. Then simply slot the device inside a black vest – which looks and feels more like a sports bra - and start playing. At full-time, transfer your data, via Bluetooth, to your iPhone app.
Who uses it?
Catapult Sports provide wearable tech to more than 1,500 clubs across a range of sports, including Premier League sides Chelsea, Leicester City and Tottenham. Now they want to help amateur players try and take their game to the next level - FFT’s Sunday League side will soon be among the converted.
Why are they using it?
The vest allows players to find out which areas of fitness they need to improve on. One tool allows you to compare your data from the first and second half to see how much you tire as the game goes on. After a 60-minute run out, FFT is informed we’re operating at 17% of a pro player’s fitness levels. We weren’t trying though…
How much does it cost?
Catapult have priced their latest piece of tech at £199, while the free app is available on iPhone and Android smartphones. That may sound expensive, but it’ll cost you no more than a brand new pair of boots and it could improve your game and your health. We think that’s money well spent.
How Charlton use PlayerTek with their first team...
Why do Charlton use a GPS vest to monitor players?
GPS monitoring has become a huge part of what we do at Charlton – it’s just as routine as a heart rate monitor," says first team sports scientist Josh Hornby. "The vest is highly accurate, so it enables us to monitor the training loads of each individual player, so we know when they need to do a bit more work out on the training pitch or perhaps taper down before a game.
Do any players dislike being monitored on a daily basis?
The players have bought into GPS and a lot of them ask for their stats after training and games. It does create a certain level of competition between some players, but it’s all good fun. The important thing is that it informs each individual where they are at from a fitness point of view.
How can a GPS vest improve a player’s performance?
The heat map is a great tool because players can view where they are expending energy on the pitch, which, from a tactical point of view, can help them tweak their positioning so they’re impacting the game in the right areas. You can also compare a player’s stats from the first and second half, so we know if they’re struggling a little bit later on in games.
Do the GPS stats have an impact on player selection?
No. We’d never use one measurement to make a decision on a player. It just helps to inform us of the overall picture. You have to apply context – a player may be asked to play a certain role, which doesn’t require as much running, so his sprints and distance covered will be lower. Tactics massively affect physical performance – for example, if you play on the counter-attack you may expect a great number of sprints from your wide players.