Technology helps academy’s efforts to develop young players

Technology is playing a growing part in the development of young footballers, says All Whites legend Ricki Herbert.

The founder of the Ricki Herbert Football Academy says a rapidly improving range of applications and devices are boosting his coaches’ efforts to help boys and girls to improve their football skills.

“We’ve had to make sure we’ve got the latest tools so we can plan our sessions and review players’ progress using the best information we can get,” the former national coach said.

Herbert said his coaches had access to the academy’s detailed curriculum material through electronic devices, helping them plan coaching sessions.

The traditional whiteboard still plays a part in player education but the use of apps and devices to play back game video has become a useful tool.

“We can even provide our own video of academy games or training sessions, using either fixed camera or overhead video taken with our drone camera.

“The drone enables us to see really clearly how players use space or how the team keeps its shape.”

RHFA players also have access to the same GPS-tracking technology used by professional players at the highest levels in the game.

The academy owns a set of GPS trackers – see a sample unit held by an academy player in our main photograph – which fit snugly down the back of the player’s shirt.

Data uploaded from the trackers gives coaches an accurate ‘map’ of the ground and distance covered by each player, enabling analysis of movement, speeds and workrate.

“Our approach is that if we want our players to be able to develop to the highest levels of the game, they need to be able to benefit from using the technology and the tools that the top clubs and players are using,” Herbert said.

The academy keeps on-going data on players, capturing fitness levels and basic factors such as height/weight as well as detailed information on players’ technical abilities.

“As these youngsters grow, it’s important we monitor changes and look for any impact on their development.”

For Herbert and the academy, investment in technology will translate into better young players.

“And seeing players reach their potential is how our academy and our coaches measure the success of what we do.”