A Ron Smith guest post: On The Bench

Introduction

I have invited Ron Smith to write a post about the International Football Association Board’s (IFAB) decision to “use of electronic and communication equipment in the technical area”.

Ron has been involved in football for fifty years and has integrated technology into his coaching from his early days use of film loops to share technical and tactical insights with players and coaches.

On The Bench

Simon Austin noted earlier this month:

IFAB, which decides the rules of the game, has announced that “small, hand-held electronic or communication devices will be allowed in the technical area “if used for coaching/ tactics or player welfare. This can include items as large as laptops.

It took years before approval was given for GPS systems to be worn during matches, so the introduction of devices for tactical and coaching information to be received on the bench, in whatever format, is not surprising.

The terms of reference are broad enough for anything to be relayed to the coaching staff so the relevant information will be determined by what the coach wants to know or see during the game.

Physical data could be useful if the weather conditions are different to what the players normally experience, but I would expect the coaches and physiologists to know each players’ physiological capacities and limitations.

Pre-World Cup warm up games could be used to simulate expected adverse weather conditions and identify players, if any, who may have problems.

With regards to the technical /tactical information a coach might want to receive on the bench during the game, I suggest the most useful would be of a quantitative nature rather than qualitative.

The coaches will be watching the game from the touchline and will know what is going on but the benefit of observations made by a colleague watching from an elevated position can be an advantage.

The qualitative information I would like to receive on the bench would relate to how well the team is carrying out our game plans in attack and defence, and if it is not happening to my satisfaction I would like the observations of a trusted colleague who has an aerial view. I would also have the opinion of other coaches on the bench to cross reference these observations.

It is difficult to make adjustments to the team performance during the game so whatever information I receive ought to confirm no change in the chosen strategy or lead to a change in strategy. A change would lead to implementation of Plan B or Plan C, which the players would have had to practice and be able to apply. This approach to adjusting tactics and / or team shape, or a player’s role would come from what I call ‘What If’ training based on game scenarios during the long-term preparation of the team. This is difficult but not impossible to achieve within the infrequent gatherings and constantly changing environment of international football.

I think quantitative data during the game would be limited to precise performance indicators such as attempts to play behind from specific areas of the pitch, which research has shown to have a profound effect on scoring opportunities.

I do not envisage a Head Coach watching replays of events on the bench while the game is in progress but selected passages might be viewed during stoppages in play.  The use of selected clips at half time would enable the coach to communicate visually with the players what he wants them to focus on in the second half, which he cannot do during the game.

Many sports have regulations about ‘time outs’. The availability of augmented information raises some important questions about how the IFAB decision might affect the flow of games. In women’s tennis, the WTA has permitted coaches:

to enter the court to provide tactical advice and support … armed with analytical evidence of what is unfolding on court, delivered via mobile applications supplied by the tour’s software analytics partner.

In IPL cricket,  there are four strategic time outs, each of two and a half minutes: the bowling side can ask for a break between overs 6 and 9 while the batting team can opt for the same anytime between 13 and 16 overs

I wonder if some form of time out will be the next initiative IFAB discusses.

The 2018 World Cup gives us a great opportunity to see how the availability of touch line technology works.

Photo Credit

Chertsey Town v Banstean Athletic (Chris Turner, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Substitutions (Ronnie MacDonald, CC BY 2.0)

Goal-Line Technology Update: July 2012

I have been following discussions about the use of goal-line technology in football.

A Special Meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) on 5 July 2012 had goal-line technology as the first item on its agenda.

An IFAB report of the meeting noted:

Following the conclusion of a nine-month test process that began in August 2011, led by EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), the IFAB unanimously decided to approve in principle both companies that took part in Test Phase 2: GoalRef and Hawk-Eye. This approval is subject to a final installation test at each stadium before the systems can be used in “real” football matches, in accordance with the FIFA Quality Programme for GLT.

The IFAB noted that the technology will be utilised only for the goal line. Revisions to the wording of specific Laws of the Game will be made, relating to: Law 1 (The Field of Play); Law 2 (The Ball); Law 5 (The Referee); and Law 10 (The Method of Scoring).

These are the goal-line technology specifications that guided the IFAB discussion of the technology.

Edgar Alvarez points out that:

GoalRef uses “electromagnetic antennas around the goal posts and crossbar to transmit a signal to a referee’s watch as soon as the entire ball crosses the line”.

Hawk-Eye “requires six to eight high-speed cameras — that shoot at 500 fps — to grab multiple images of the match ball and quickly process them to identify if it indeed crossed the line completely — this is also helped by black-colored dots on each goal post which aid the cameras gain a better overall precision”.

A second item on the agenda considered additional assistant referees (AAR) following a two-year experiment in the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and EURO 2012, as well as the AFC President’s Cup and competitions in Brazil, France, Morocco and Qatar. The  IFAB agreed unanimously that the use of two additional assistant referees be approved. An amendment will be made to the Laws of the Game, “with a separate section concerning additional assistant referees. It was also approved that communication equipment be permitted between match officials in the Laws of the Game“.

Photo Credit

Football

Goal-Line Technology Update: May 2012

iSportConnect carried a story today about the use of goal-line technology in football.

The story indicates that:

  • England’s friendly against Belgium at Wembley on 2 June will be used to test the Hawk-Eye goal-line technology system.
  • Independent testers from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and representatives from FIFA will monitor the system.
  • It will not be available for use by the match officials on 2 June.
  • The Hawk-Eye system was tested in a English minor league cup final between Eastleigh and AFC Totton in April.
  • An alternative system, GoalRef, has undergone trials at two Danish league matches this month.
  • The International Football Association Board will consider reports from these trials to consider the introduction of goal-line technology at its special meeting in July.

Photo Credit

Goal!