In 1758, Charles Linnaeus cataloged the human being as Homo Sapiens, since the ability to know is one of its characteristics. This definition of the Swedish scientist was completed at the beginning of the 20th century by the philosopher Henri Bergson who, focusing on his ability to manufacture objects, defined the human being as Homo Faber. A few years later, in 1938, the Dutch philosopher Johan Huizinga would complete both descriptions by adding a third characteristic to the human personality: that of Homo Ludens. At that point in the 1930s, sport, and soccer in particular, formed a basic part of the life of our species. According to Huzinga himself, the playful attitude is essential for the emergence of culture, so it would be present in almost all human activities, to the point of being a key element in social development.
“This is probably the reason why the “new” paradigms of education try to incorporate the game as a didactic strategy into the school experience, using it as a facilitator of motivation and commitment of students,” explains Pau Casassa, Technical Director of Barça Academy. This proposal, known as gamification, requires the teacher to generate game contexts that represent an attractive challenge for the students, whose resolution process, more or less successful, more or less efficient, requires discovering, connecting or applying the ideas, concepts and contents of interest”.
In the case of sports, it is in training where this combination of games and physical activity is most evident. As Casassa explains, “the Barça Academy designs sessions that include different games with defined rules that allow the player to measure his level of competence through the resolution of the proposed challenges. In addition, these regulations serve as a frame of reference for their possibilities of action, ensuring autonomy in carrying out those movements they consider or can, in the time they want or can. In the game they interact with their peers, who are sometimes their opponents, sharing experiences and thus ensuring a sense of collectivity that supports learning”.
Improving technique, avoiding injury
Today’s technological development has allowed coaches to enrich the educational experience by using objective information related to the players’ motor experience and performance, obtained through new tools. One of them is the GPS tracking device OLIVER, whose name is reminiscent of the Super Champions series and one of its main characters, Oliver Atom, which, from the very first moment, transmits to the user feelings related to innovation, dynamism, technology, the epic of soccer and playfulness.
Linked to a website and an App, this device is placed on the average of any player, regardless of their level, gender and age and, thanks to its GPS technology, not only identifies areas for improvement, but also guides users on how to achieve such progress. Its developer, Try OLIVER, is a Barça Innovation Hub investee company.
“They are not only compared with their previous records, but also with the best players within their category, whether amateur, semi-professional or professional. In cases where improvement is required, the app offers recommendations to help users optimize their performance on specific metrics that come from trusted physical trainers and are presented in the form of informative videos and text,” explains Ignacio Fernandez, Head of Product at the company, who highlights how OLIVER, in addition to improving performance, also serves to prevent injuries.
“Many users do not have access to personal trainers who can help them regulate the intensity of their training. The importance of finding the balance between not over-exerting themselves and avoiding under-exertion has led us to develop load control functionality, which allows users to effectively monitor and manage their training, protecting them against potential injury. We have also added the experience points metric, which allows you to level up and unlock upgrades, such as the ability to compare your values with those of a professional player or participate in exciting “duels” with other users, because we have observed that, although initial enthusiasm is high, many of the players tend to lose interest and abandon tracking their performance,” concludes Fernandez.
Designed for soccer
The main features that distinguish OLIVER from other similar GPS devices could be summarized as:
- Designed for soccer
The positioning on the leg, its gender-sensitive design and its metrics on aspects such as shooting power, intensity of ball strikes, distance traveled with the ball, etc. make it an optimal tool for this sport.
- Intuitive and interactive interface
It is not necessary to be an expert in data analysis or software to use it.
- Low cost
OLIVER is affordable for both individual users and teams and does not need to be supplemented with extra elements such as cameras, experts or antennas. While the price for teams depends on the number of devices needed and the duration of the contract, for individual players, the price of OLIVER is similar to that of a pair of soccer boots: 149 euros, which includes a one-year subscription that, once expired, costs ten euros per month.
As Pau Casassa explains, beyond specific sporting advances, devices such as OLIVER, which are committed to gamification, have positive effects on the overall development of athletes as they simultaneously stimulate and unbalance them in aspects such as emotions, physique, technique, mental pressure, communication, performance, fatigue, creativity and a host of qualities that shape the person.