Capello to use space-age gadgets to monitor fitness
Published 23:00 16/11/10 By John Cross
Fabio Capello is plotting England’s Euro 2012 campaign with technology from outer space.
The England boss, with equipment resembling a sports bra, has become a trail blazer by using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to monitor players’ fitness levels.
England, like a host of Premier League clubs, are using a revolutionary service provided by Irish company STATsports to try to prevent injuries and combat the problems of fatigue.
Tiredness and long hard seasons dogged Capello’s World Cup campaign with players like Wayne Rooney looking shattered in South Africa
Chelsea captain John Terry has pulled out this week with a persistent back problem while Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson and Frank Lampard have all suffered injuries this season in the wake of England’s World Cup hangover.
Four months on, it remains difficult to understand why a group of highly-trained, highly-paid super fit athletes could have looked tired and lacklustre in South Africa.
Capello is now looking for answers and the equipment - using a pod embedded in the bra-like shoulder straps underneath every player’s shirt - provides amazing insight by tracing crucial statistics like distance, heart rate and speed. It can even tell when they are tired and running “leaden footed.”
With every player given an individual profile using those statistics in an equation with their body weight and fitness, the idea is they exceed their maximum weekly “workload” built up from games and training sessions.
It is designed so if a player is showing signs of tiredness in the statistics bounced from their pod via GPS to a laptop on the side of the pitch then training is scaled right back and they could be sent to the swimming pool rather than the training pitch.
Science can trace most information from games but the clever part is using STATsports’ Services in every training session to prevent tired players pulling hamstrings or looking exhausted when it comes to kick-off.
England doctor Ian Beasley told Mirror Sport: “When I got home after the World Cup, all I got was people ringing me up saying: ‘what went wrong?’
“We all have an idea but we don’t actually know. All we can hope is that when we get to the Euros we will have a better idea based on science rather than dogma.
“I can look at the tracings on the computer and immediately tell which players are tired from having played three games in the past week.
“We can then say to the manager - who has bought into it big time - that it’s time to ease off and that player should do less training or spend the morning in the pool.
“The players have embraced it, they’ve been fantastic and want to know about their levels and so on.
“We can now watch training sessions in real time on the laptop from the side of the pitch. The players’ heart rate, distance travelled and that helps us make the ‘player
“They should not exceed that load or risk getting injured. That is when they are vulnerable.
“When a player is running when tired they are leaden footed. Just think about when you are tired, you stomp your feet hard on the ground. We can tell the difference in the players and the way they run with this technology.
“You might run 100 metres one day and feel as fresh as a daisy. The next day when you’re fatigued and tired, it will take you markedly longer and that’s what this equipment helps us look out for.”
Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool are Statsports clients while Chelsea and Fulham also use their technology.
The FA are sharing the statistics on players with their respective clubs.
England’s rugby team already use the equipment, the International Rugby Board has given teams special dispensation to wear the gadgets during games for the next three years and the next step in football is to get the Premier League to follow suit.
Alan Clarke, managing director of STATsports, said: “We are trying to find the Holy Grail, the balance between good training, the body’s limits and so on to help players perform at their optimum level.
“When a player is in that higher ‘workload’ bracket when you are more likely to get injured because you’re fatigued. Soft tissue injuries largely come from wear and tear and being fatigued.
“I’m convinced that England will get the benefit and be the first team to do so. I like the England set-up, the physio Gary Lewin and Ian Beasley. The challenge is to help England be successful which is hard for me to say as an Irishman!”