The BBC has a report on how the Australian national team is utilizing advanced video technology as part of their training program. (HT Slashdot) The Socceroos (I just love that name) are using a package called Sportscode to analyze opponents and prepare for upcoming matches.

The Socceroos’ technical coach, Ron Smith, explains how he’s using the software:

"Some people prefer to look at individual players, I actually code games to look at what the team does with the ball," explained Mr Smith.

"Where do they win it back? Where do they regain possession? How far do they progress with it?

"Because that sort of information gives you an indication of how effective your tactics are."

Lest you think it’s just some fancy video recording system, here’s how the software is being used to prepare for Australia’s World Cup opponents.

Each passage of play is logged according to who won possession and what they did with it. A play-list allows you to take each part of your opponent’s game, for example corners, and play them together.

"My function with the national team is to provide information to the coaches," he [Coach Smith] said.

"To be able to break a game down into pieces and to say if you want to quickly look at all of the possession that a team has, then you can.

"One thing that I found from looking at isolated parts of the game is that you can see patterns emerge very, very quickly, because it is happening more frequently than in watching a normal game over a 90 minute period."

That last part is what I find very interesting. Watching game tapes is tedious and time consuming. By using software that can analyze the movements of each player, you could quickly identify players who favor certain moves and prepare for them.

Soccer is always sold as the simplest of games since all you need is a ball and something to mark off a field and goals. But like everything else, technology is becoming more and more prevalent and I expect more stories like this in the future.

While the article doesn’t mention this, the Socceroos aren’t the only team using stuff from SportsTec for soccer. US Collegiate teams, European pro teams, and other national teams also use it. FIFA is listed as a client as well – wonder what they’re using it for. That would be interesting to know.