Today we worked our first match, providing performance analysis to the U19 Academy team in their game versus the Nacional Universidad U19 team. Not only was the weather much nicer – sunny with a slight breeze – the match was also played on one of the best fields in all of Uruguay – Nacional’s training pitch in the city of Canelones, which neighbours Montevideo.
The players wore Polar Team Pro heart rate and GPS units, (also equipped with accelerometers), which is a brand new system available in Canada only through Coach Farzad and his company, Sports Performance Analytics Inc. Using this system, we were able to give live information and feedback to the coaches and players regarding their heart rate/exercise intensity level, work rate, distance covered, number of sprints, and the speed of those sprints.
Later, a full match report will be provided to the coaching staff, including statistical analysis of the data recorded, comparisons to standards and norms for age, gender, and playing position, and suggestions for feedback to be given to the players.
It was a very rewarding experience for Coach Farzad and I, especially because we got to see how appreciative the coaches and players are of the work that we do as fitness coaches and sports scientists.
One possible reason that the coaches in Uruguay are so supportive of sports science is that they are all required to study the subject in order to obtain their coaching licenses. I touched on this topic in a previous blog earlier this week:
Whereas in Canada, often even in some of the higher levels of soccer that Coach Farzad and I have worked, coaches sometimes do not recognise, value, or use the information provided to them through performance and match analysis, here in Uruguay the entire coaching staff could not stop asking us questions about this information, even for several hours after the match was over.
Ultimately, the aim of a fitness coach or sports scientist must be to see and analyse the game from a different perspective, and then to simplify this analysis in order to provide concise information to the coaching staff, who can then use this information to alter and adjust their strategy and tactics if needed. When we are included as part of the coaching staff and can work as a cohesive unit (as was the case this afternoon), the end result is more efficient training, and more effective match performance.
Tomorrow there will be a light training session, which precedes a friendly match on Saturday. Looking forward to sharing more of this experience with you in 24 hours’ time!