Technology at Velocity: Using GPS Vests to grow students’ understanding of the game

At Velocity Football, it is our aim to provide all our students with an interesting and enjoyable education programme while providing an environment to develop their footballing skills on and off the field.  

Students studying our Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport and Level 2 BTEC Extended Certificate in Sport programmes receive the latest technology to analyse their performances to the highest level. It is on a par with analytics used at professional football clubs and ensures we meet our ambitions of providing expert tutoring in the classroom.

Graduates of the BTEC programme that choose to progress their studies with Velocity Football further via our one-year Higher National Certificate (HNC) course are then able to develop their understanding of analysing performances and matches by using our state-of-the-art GPS vests and pods.

The vests and pods are used by students during their daily training sessions and weekly competitive matches. But how does using GPS vests and pods enhance our students’ experiences at Velocity?

We caught up with HNC student George Baker, who is one of several goalkeepers currently studying at Velocity Football to talk about his experience of the studying the analytical side of football.   

Why we monitor performances

Analysing performances has grown in sport since the late 19th Century when the New York Times published data on tennis matches providing readers with information on the total number of points a player won, the number of aces hit and where balls were placed.

Of course, times have changed, and technology has developed since those first shoots of a new sector within sport went public. It is now a topic that dominates modern-day sport and is a vital resource in player development, which is why we have made it a key segment on our HNC programme.   

At Velocity Football, students collect data from their own performances in training and on matchdays and upload the information into a software package. By using the data collected from our GPS vests, students can identify parameters such as total distance, player load, number of sprints, accelerations and heart rate.

“GPS vests are a key part of our education at Velocity Football,” said George. “By uploading our own data onto our laptops, we are able to analyse data and identify performance targets.

“In addition, the data we read helps us to understand the rest periods we require between matches and sessions to avoid unnecessary strain on the body. This means every time we train; we can do so knowing our bodies are suitably prepared for the activities we have planned for the day.”

Data and goalkeeping

For George, using GPS vests has helped him to unlock a greater understanding of not only football but also his own personal performance and capabilities.

As a goalkeeper, George focuses primarily on the impact of his sprint speeds and identifying how he can improve his levels of acceleration from a standing start to ensure waiting strikers cannot pounce onto loose balls within his penalty area.

He said: “I have always been the type of person that wants to push themself to achieve the very best results. By studying GPS data as part of Velocity’s HNC programme, I have opened a whole new understanding of how I can push myself to achieve better results.

“Distance wise, I focus on what I can achieve within the six-yard box. That means short sprints are extremely important to me – I want to be able to jump on a loose ball to reduce the chances of the opposition scoring from a corner or free kick for example when there are crowded bodies in my penalty area.”

Competitive edge

It would seem the introduction of GPS vests and pods to the Velocity programme has helped students to bring out their competitive edge too.

“I’m studying with my mates – I don’t want them to be beating me when it comes to analysing data like sprint speed, top speed, total distance, and power plays,” joked George.

“We’re all competitive, and the GPS vests have certainly helped everyone to push themselves to achieve their full potential. It’s all good fun.

“So far we have learnt how to upload the data into the computer and analyse our performances. We are saving all our progress for the entire academic year with a view to being able to reflect on what we achieved during our HNC studies once the summer months begin.

“It’s important to monitor our progress because we can develop a plan concerning how we can progress our performances next year should we choose to continue our studies via the Higher National Diploma (HND) programme.”

Top facilities

The GPS vests and pods are one of several technological elements we have introduced to all courses provided to enhance students’ learning experience.

In addition to taking delivery of a new television screen for match analysis thanks to our partners Vestel Visual Solutions and Westcoast, we also use VEO cameras and 360 Player to ensure students are used to using professional equipment.

George added: “The facilities provided by Velocity are second to none. That’s not only the technology aspect of the courses, but also the physical elements too.

“To be able to learn from Mickey Lewis and a host of UEFA B License coaches really helps us to develop our game. The 3G playing surface means we can play in all conditions too and the classroom facilities have been upgraded this year to provide us all with a platform to enhance our levels of employability once we graduate.”

Developing a career

George’s career options remain open for the moment – he plans to explore a career in either coaching, physiotherapy, or establishing himself as a goalkeeping coach.

By joining Velocity Football, George can explore a range of careers the sport sector can provide to course graduates.

He said: “Once I graduate, I know opportunities will be there for me to take because of the contacts Velocity Football has helped me to establish within the game through my education.

“I joined Velocity to develop my football skills, but primarily I wanted an education to ensure I am well-qualified to explore the different careers that sport can provide to me in the future.

“I would love to work in sport once I graduate, and I feel like I am well placed to reach my full potential by studying with Velocity.”

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