This blog post was originally published at Teledyne FLIR’ website. It is reprinted here with the permission of Teledyne FLIR.
Football (or soccer) is the world’s favorite pastime as well as a huge industry. Top clubs cannot afford to make the wrong personnel decisions – and key players need to recover as quickly as possible after an injury. This is where the Austrian company skills.lab comes in to help some of Europe’s biggest soccer clubs.
Compare and Develop Players
All professional soccer clubs face similar tasks: how do you evaluate the performance of a soccer player, how do you objectively compare different players, how can you measure progress, and how do you correctly assess potential of future stars? In the past, clubs relied on the statements of talent scouts and coaches. Today, empirical, objective comparison criteria is in great demand.
The Solution: skills-lab.com
Under the skills.lab brand, Anton Paar SportsTec GmbH has designed and implemented various training systems for this purpose: The Arena, The Studio and The Cube. Anton Paar SportsTec’s most popular training system is the skills.lab Arena – the world’s most advanced interactive system for objective assessment and individual improvement of technical skills of soccer players.
The skills.lab Arena is the first system to transparently assess, compare, and track the fundamental technical skills of a player with an immersive and data-driven training experience on 320 m². It provides coaching staff with complete and truly holistic views of a player’s capabilities and provide information to create targeted individual training programs as well as monitor the player development. The skills.lab Arena utilizes automated ball machines, 360° projection screens, state of the art measurement technology and data science to allow highly intense football training and in-depth data analyses. HD cameras as well as laser and positioning sensors in combination with complex algorithms deliver a variety of highly valuable data such as ball handling time and ball speed in real time.
Teledyne FLIR cameras track the ball
When first prototyping the skills.labs Arena, the skills.lab machine vision specialist relied on the FLIR Blackfly cameras, with which she had previous experience. The Blackfly was later replaced by two more powerful cameras from the Teledyne FLIR product range: the Grasshopper3 and the Oryx. Altogether, there are five Grasshopper3 and six Oryx cameras around the skills.lab pitch. The 10GigE Oryx cameras are particularly well suited for collecting raw data for calculations due to their high resolution and frame rate. The Oryx cameras track the ball measuring speed and trajectory of the shot, while the Grasshopper3 cameras record the game and players from multiple perspectives for post-training analysis and live viewing.
Because of the fixed installation and controlled ambient light, the key factors in choosing the Grasshopper 3 and the Oryx for this application were for the pure performance data of the cameras, cost-effectiveness, and the ease of software integration with the Linux operating system. Other critical system requirements include the ability to see long distances (up to 60 m) and the ability of the camera and lens mounts to withstand vibrations and flying soccer balls.
“We have been using FLIR products for many years in our high-end football training systems,” explains Dr. Johannes Tändl, General Manager of Anton Paar SportsTec GmbH. “Besides the quality and performance of the products, the cameras have shown long-term maintenance-free functionality – a total must for us and our customers in professional soccer.”
The skills.lab Arena is the world’s most advanced interactive system for objective assessment and individual improvement of technical skills of soccer players.
Modern measurement technology for objectivity and player development
For comparing players, identical testing and training conditions worldwide enable empirical, data-driven player comparisons. Personal progress is also measured through targeted individual training for each player. Technical skills can be measured and trained in more than 60 interactive exercises. The training intensity can be varied, for example, more than 360 balls played in 60 minutes and different difficulty levels per exercise are possible. And after an injury, precisely designed rehabilitation workouts can shorten the players’ time back onto the pitch. It is hardly surprising that leading European clubs rely on skills.labs solutions.
About skills.lab.com and Anton Paar SportsTec GmbH
skills.lab.com founded in 2016, was designed and developed by Anton Paar, an international company based in Graz (Austria) which produces high-precision scientific instruments and employs more than 3,500 people worldwide (2020). The company invests more than 16 percent of the annual turnover in research and development. The subsidiary Anton Paar SportsTec GmbH offers training systems and analytics services to football clubs, federations, and companies in the field of football training.
Headquarters of Anton Paar SportsTec in Graz.