Striking development for football

The team behind the testing of the official 2006 FIFA World Cup match football is now turning its attention to the players’ skills by analysing what makes the perfect strike.

Loughborough University (LU) expert Dr Paul Neilson has spent years researching the dynamic testing of footballs, including working with Adidas to test the +Teamgeist ball. Neilson has now joined the team of inventors at LU spinout Sports Dynamics developing QuinSpin, a coaching tool to objectively measure the elements of a killer strike.

As is the case in many ball sports, spin is an important factor affecting dynamic ball performance.

“If a player can impart a sufficiently high spin rate, whilst controlling the axis of spin, this will result in a curved trajectory enabling the player to bend the ball in flight. But a ball that is struck cleanly with minimal spin can travel at much faster speeds and sometimes be subject to more complex aerodynamic forces” said Neilson.

At the 2002 World Cup, 38 per cent of goals were scored from set pieces, illustrating the importance of good ball striking technique for tactical situations.”

QuinSpin provides football coaches, managers and players with objective, real-time measurements of ball speed, elevation, spin rate and spin axis. Neilson believes QuinSpin will provide a dramatic breakthrough in coaching, as technique analysis in football and many other ball sports can be very subjective.

“Now coaches will be able to quantify a fundamental football skill in a way that previously could only be described qualitatively”, said Neilson. “This data can also be archived to build up individual player profiles, helping players develop their weaker foot and of course monitoring the return to form after injury.”

The system, which goes onto the market in July, uses distinctive balls featuring an arrangement of reflective dots to measure 3D ball spin. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, sensors are triggered the moment the ball is kicked, instantaneously capturing the ball flight characteristics as well as providing slow motion action replay. All information is immediately displayed on a PC for instant analysis and, over time, an invaluable library of comparative data can be built up.

QuinSpin has already been demonstrated to a number of English Premier League clubs, Championship clubs and official bodies. The system was launched internationally at the NSCAA soccer coach convention in Philadelphia and has received significant interest from US coaches in colleges and academies. The first systems are expected to be in commercial use very shortly and a number of new product developments are in the pipeline.