While physical performance has always been gauged using GPS monitoring, time trials and strength testing, technical attributes have traditionally been challenging to tangibly measure.
It was in his search to bridge this gap that Chris Theodorou, Football Program Manager at Heidelberg United FC discovered SmartGoals.
“It is manufactured by a Dutch company. I first came across it online where I saw the Ajax first team using it during training. It was awesome, I was totally blown away and thought we have to try and get this equipment to Australia.” Theodorou said.
The interactive training system uses a set of targets which are imbued with light signals. Once a player physically passes the goal, or kicks a ball through the goal, another SmartGoal lights up, making it the new target.
This makes the system extremely useful for physical training such as sprint tests and agility tests, but also for driving technical improvement through drills that focus on passing, shooting, or dribbling.
“It’s an interactive system that works with light signals. A smart goal lights up and becomes a target. Whether you want to run through them, shoot the ball through them or something else you do that and once that’s complete the next smart goal lights up.”
Having targets that dynamically change forces players to adjust in a split second, replicating the intensity they experience during an in-game situation.
“Basically, it trains awareness, reaction time, team play and technical skills. The target changes instantly every time a successful SmartGoal has been executed,” Theodorou said.
“It’s challenging and fun for players at all levels. Whether you are a beginner or professional you can use it, there are exercises for people of all abilities and even for people playing with disabilities. The accessibility SmartGoals provides is a huge benefit.”
All of the data gathered is recorded for coaches and players, making it enormously beneficial for identifying development opportunities as well as making it more mentally engaging for players.
“Data collection is so important in sport these days. You can keep track of how fast an individual is, how many goals they’ve scored, and determine their accuracy. The beauty of SmartGoals is that you can now measure their technical ability and watch them grow,” Theodorou said.
The App which comes with SmartGoals also includes a database that contains more than 100 filmed exercises. While originally built for football, the goals have expanded to other sports including hockey and athletics.
The database means coaches can keep training fresh by tailoring their training program to their needs. The filmed videos further assist this, by providing an easy guide on how to setup the exercise and how the player should look when executing the drill.
“The database has exercises that allow you to train individuals, or the whole team. There’s technique training, positional training, possession and more,” Theodorou said.
“They were purposely built for football and since we started implementing them at training, the feedback we have received has been absolutely fabulous.”
With SmartGoals proving a success at Heidelberg United FC, Theodorou believes it is important for more Australian football clubs to invest in burgeoning technology.
In additional to SmartGoals, he has implemented SoccerPLAY into Heidelberg FC’s football program and is a strong advocate of keeping up to date with international trends.
“Clubs must view technology like SmartGoals as an investment, not an expense,” he said.
“Australian football has been a little behind on trends and reluctant to invest. The trends are slowly changing though, we have started tapping into the types of things the leading countries have been using over the last three or four years,” he said.
For more information on SmartGoals, visit HERE.