Sunday, October 23rd, 2011
Press release from Loughborough University:
With a punishing training schedule and six matches under their belts, the rest and recovery strategies of the French and New Zealand teams will be as crucial as their match play tactics in the Rugby World Cup final this Sunday. Innovative sports science technology developed at Loughborough University has been helping many of the All Blacks squad to maintain peak performance.
The Canterbury Crusaders make up one third of the All Blacks Team. The devastating Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 placed a massive strain on the Crusaders, with their home ground closed for the entire season, they effectively played every match as an away game. However, using the Loughborough expertise, the Crusaders were able optimize their recovery in order to reach the finals of the national championship and have 10 of their players selected for the All Blacks Rugby World Cup challenge, with Richie McCaw as captain.
The innovative recovery expertise is the work of Dr Vern Neville, a professional America’s Cup sailor, scientist and coach who spent over a decade analyzing the behaviours and training patterns of elite athletes from the worlds of rugby, sailing, soccer, cycling and Formula 1.
Honing his research in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science at Loughborough University (Team GB’s Olympic preparation base), Dr Neville sought programming expertise from Harvard and Stanford University alumni to create an intuitive web and smartphone based software for intelligent recovery. The software uses 13 daily evidence based inputs including resting heart rate, sleep, hydration, mood, appetite, muscle soreness and illness and converts these using smart analytics into a single recovery score. This enables athletes and teams to decide how hard to train and how much they should rest.
Commenting on the impact of the Loughborough expertise, Ashley Jones, the Canterbury Crusaders Physical Performance Co-Ordinator / Strength & Conditioning Coach from 2004 – 11, said: “With the use of Restwise (the software) we were able to ascertain which players needed extra sessions for recovery and also seeing which recovery modalities worked best with players, so in effect individualising the recovery as we do our physical training.”
“Recovery isn’t just important, it’s a biological necessity,” said Dr Neville. “Too little recovery and you slowly grind yourself down, risking both impaired performance and lowered immune function. Too much recovery and you don’t introduce enough stress to trigger physiological adaptation. You don’t get fitter, stronger and faster.” He continued: “Without a way to consistently and easily monitor recovery during high demand training or competition periods such as during the Rugby World Cup, even the best trained teams are at risk of over-fatigue or injury. This could well be the deciding factor in the outcome of the World Cup.”
Restwise has already been part of 38 world championship wins, gaining the respect of coaches and practitioners from the world of professional rugby, cycling and sailing as well as a host of Olympic sports.
Professor Myra Nimmo, Head of Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences where Vern undertook his PhD commented: “Restwise is an excellent example of how our world leading scientific research can be translated to deliver real impact in optimising sport performance.”
Monday, October 17th, 2011
Sportstechreview is going through a bit of a redesign at the minute, we will keep adding good quality content but not at the same rate as before for the next couple of weeks.
Thanks for your patience,
Friday, September 16th, 2011
For those of you that have grown up playing the beautiful game (soccer, Global Football, or just football), I wonder how many weeks, hours or minutes you have spent being coached how to strike the ball? From my personal experience, albeit not at a professional level, I remember having 2 training sessions as a youngster. These involved demonstrations and being told in detail how to strike the ball for both power and curling kicks (as an aside the curling kick was introduced to the world in the 1950’s when a Brazilian by the name of Didi unleashed his revolutionary strike).
Now that I come to think about it, striking the ball is such a key component of the game, how did I not receive more training on the intricacies of striking the ball? Of course individually and as a team we did practise striking the ball… a lot, however the feedback on the kick was always based on the outcome of the kick rather than analysing the technique of it! Undoubtedly practice does make perfect, proven beyond any doubt to anyone who has read the book Bounce by Matthew Syed, however the overwhelming message in the book is it’s not just about practising, but more importantly practising with purpose, continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
To illustrate the complexities involved with striking the ball, David Beckham’s free kick has been analysed by experts citing that it is the topspin that he is able to impart upon the ball that allows it to dip. To the novice and some experts, this sounds like a reasonable explanation (anyone who has played tennis or table-tennis will also appreciate the noticeable effects of imparting top spin onto the ball). However according to Bartek Sylwestrzak’s analysis of the Beckham free kick, ‘He actually puts very little topspin on the ball, and often none at all’. It is gravity (evident in all shots ever taken by any level of footballer) that allows Beckham’s shots to dip. As his shots have little or no top spin on the ball, his best free kicks are more often than not taken from long range, rather than from the very edge of the box.
A player that has no problems striking the ball from the very edge of the penalty box, as he is able to place topspin on the ball is a Brazilian by the name of Juninho Pernambucano. Check out the video clip showing some of his goals from last season… Watch out for the strike from just outside of the 18 yard box whereby the ball goes over the wall and then bounces before the goal line, before going in, not something I was ever taught to do. And yes you are right this is possible due to the dip he gets on the ball by applying topspin. His free kick taking stats are incredible, at Lyon alone scoring 44 goals in 8 seasons; please let us know if anyone else in the world at the elite level has a better free kick record.
I am very impressed by Juninho’s striking ability, it must be stated that Marcos Assunçăo is another Brazilian maestro of kicking the ball with great technique and capable of imparting topspin onto the ball, but who is teaching these guys to strike the ball in such a way? I’ve tracked down a coach that does understand the intricacies of striking a dead ball, it would be great if England’s current and future free kick takers could learn from him…
As a final point, having watched the English Premier League over the past few seasons Xabi Alonso and Charlie Adam seem to effortlessly, consistently and with great accuracy stroke the ball around the pitch. As a sports engineer it to me seems very apparent that there is a severe lack of technology and coaching expertise being used by professional and amateur football clubs alike to assist young aspiring footballers to hone their abilities when it comes to striking the ball in order to replicate top professional such as Alonso, Adam, Juninho and Assunçăo.
Article by Jouni Ronkainen
Monday, September 12th, 2011
The Rugby World Cup has produced many memorable moments for fans across the world! Perhaps some of the most prominent images come from the finals of the 1995 and 2003 competitions, both of which were decided on drop goals in the dying moments of extra time. Part of the key to these successes has always been the quality of the ball. For the 5th competition in succession Gilbert has won the right to produce the World Cup ball.
The 2011 Virtuo has a number of similarities and changes compared to its 2007 predecessor the Synergie. For example, the pimple pattern and compound of the outer part of the ball is exactly the same. The ball’s main change occurs internally, with a different type of bladder that maintains the air inside the ball at the same pressure for the duration of the match. The bladder which has a different shape and increased weight also helps to increase ball stability in the longitudinal axis. The shape and weight of the valve have also been changed helping the ball to spin on its longitudinal axis, these features are especially useful for torpedo kicks or spin passes. These characteristics also help to increase the consistency of the ball throughout the game and when different balls are used.
This is the first tournament ball that has design that symbolises the culture of the host nation. The Maori pattern incorporates a fern shoot and hammerhead shark that interlock together at each end of the panels.
384 individually hand stitched balls will be used during the World Cup, but they won’t be completely new to the competing teams. They have been used internationally since Autumn 2010, with large amounts of positive feedback. England World Cup winner and former fly half says that, ‘If you hit it sweet, the ball will hold its line and do exactly what its meant to do’. Statistics have also shown an improvement in goal kick success rates, since the balls introduction. Success at a World Cup is ultimately down to player ability, but this ball is bound to create many more wonderful World Cup memories!
Saturday, September 3rd, 2011
Mind controlledgear shifting is here. Powered by EEG this wonderful design by Parlee Cycles and Toyota is a fantastic example of great minds can create great sports technology. You got to see the video on bike radar!
Article by Bryan Roberts