GPS Tracking is shaping the way for high school soccer teams across the country, including the Smithson Valley High School Women's team.
The Rangers are located in Spring Branch, Texas and have been named the 26-6A District Champs 8 out of the last 16 years (2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Coaches Jason Adkins and Kevin Palmer of the SV Women's team decided to invest in SPT GPS technology because they knew that if they wanted to increase the success of the team, they would need to stop guessing and start measuring how their players perform.
The Rangers chose to invest in SPT GPS technology for 4 key reasons:
1. To measure effort levels and keep players accountable
"Prior to GPS Tracking we would rely on player feedback or our best guess on who was giving a high level of effort and who was not" explains Coach Adkins. "Many times we were only able to measure with our eyes, and handwritten data. With key metrics like total distance and work rate, players are held accountable by the numbers."
"With accountability, we have also seen an increase in competition and leadership within the team. Freshmen are pushing seniors to be at their best every single day and seniors are taking responsibility for overall team performance, not wanting any player to bring the team averages down."
2. To monitor player performances and ensure that athletes are in peak condition
Coach Palmer said, "We compared data over time to evaluate fitness levels of our girls and answer the question - are we better conditioned? Has our intensity improved over the past month?"
"When comparing data from September 9th to October 7th, we noticed key increases in player intensity and work rate which helped us know that we were progressing to being a better conditioned team."
"We also noticed dips in some performances and we were able to talk to the player about it. Most recently, we addressed a player about her low performance, only to find out she was ill. The coaching staff and athletic trainers were able to adjust her workouts to an appropriate therapy regime so we could get her back on the field in a safe manner”
"The first time we took full advantage of the GPS data and all the work we had put in based on the prior month's report was on October 18th, 2019. We had a major scrimmage and our objective was to create relentless pressure on the opposing team in their defending third."
"When we took a look at the GPS data, we found that our starting Forward was consistently in Zone 6 and she was matched by our Outside Midfielder. Also we were able to see that a player who was fully cleared to play was struggling to create sprint efforts when normally she was quick to provide help and reset passing opportunities" explains Coach Palmer.
3. To reduce the risk of soft tissue injury and assist in recovery and returning to play
Utilising data collection and having access to long term view of performance, is extremely valuable explains Coach Adkins.
"We have created a catalog of data and are now able to gauge the peak load for players, and utilise those numbers to make sure a player is performing, while not pushing themselves too far past their maximum."
"If we don’t know what 100% is, how do we know what 50%, 60%, or 75% is? GPS Tracking helps us establish baselines for all of our players but also help our Athletic Trainers make sure that players who are coming back from injury are doing the exact amount of training they need to be doing to keep them on their rehab schedule as safely as possible. We are also able to tell when a player is back to full strength by evaluating her speed and sprint efforts."
4. Talent identification
Skill is of course an important part of team selection but skill alone does not define talent and hard work. If a skilful player can only perform for a third of the match before getting fatigued, then the team is in danger of being beaten in the later stages of a game. This is where performance data can be used to help coaches put their overall strongest team out on game day.
"If we have two players who are about the same skill level but one is a freshmen giving way more effort and one is a senior who is not pushing as hard, we have no problem starting the freshman," says Adkins.
In just a short time, Smithson Valley Women’s soccer has been able to utilise SPT GPS technology and make vast improvements for both individual players and the team as a whole. By having access to key metrics within the Gametraka Software such as sprint efforts, distance traveled, heat maps and player comparison, Coach Adkins and Coach Palmer consistently make informed decisions for the better of the team without having to second guess themselves.