Tracking the cumulative effect of external load is important if players are to avoid injury and overtraining during a long season. PlayerMaker has developed a revolutionary approach to load monitoring. Unlike most monitoring solutions, PlayerMaker uses an inertial measurement unit (IMU) comprising an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The outputs of these devices can be integrated in order to derive kinematic parameters like distance covered, speed and acceleration. “The sampling rate is much higher than other devices,” says Dr Mark Waldron, a senior lecturer at St. Mary’s University who has been conducting independent research into IMU load monitoring. At over 1000 samples per second, this produces more accurate measurements.
Where the device is mounted is also critical. Other solutions place a single sensor between the shoulder blades, while PlayerMaker is fitted on each foot.
“When we measure how much footballers are fatiguing or looking at predictors of injury, we’re interested in their lower limbs,” explains Dr Waldron. “So it’s more relevant to measure external load with sensors attached to the feet.”
Placing a sensor on each foot, instead of relying on just one, allows limbs to be compared. “The player may tend to load on one side during certain types of movement,” says Waldron. “We know that asymmetries are quite strongly linked to injury and injury risk.” Being able to compare two or more players’ stats is vital — but with traditional solutions, the error between units can vary “by up to 70%”, according to Dr Waldron. By contrast, PlayerMaker devices track each other almost identically, which is crucial for a networked system.
Dr Waldron’s research into load monitoring is ongoing but the benefits of PlayerMaker are already becoming clear. You can see Dr Waldron explain his research here: