US Women’s Soccer Using Heart Rate Monitors #WearableWednesday


I’m not the biggest sports fan out there, but I have to say that I was in front of my screen during the final game with our women’s team scoring fast and frequently. Not only was their control of the ball amazing, but I noticed one of the players pull up her shirt to dab some sweat, revealing a heart rate monitor. Since I’ve met someone that actually makes this type of equipment, I was curious to learn more, and it just so happens that it was discussed on ESPN.Go.

“What evolved [with the technology] was the ability for coaches to not only record the data, but be able to see it live,” says Josh Simonsen, a training specialist for Polar, the company that supplies the U.S. team with its heart rate system.

As you might imagine, the heart rate information of the entire team is sent to the coach for analysis, which is a powerful tool. You can start to address the various fitness levels of the players. But wait, there’s more…

What type of position an athlete plays also makes a difference, explains Sally Edwards, a heart rate expert and founder and CEO of Heartzones, a fitness technology company. “In team sports, each player’s position has unique physiological requirements, so the forward on a soccer team has to have different training than a defender,” says Edwards. “Some positions might need quick acceleration. Others might need endurance late in the game.”


Using biometric information from the player, the Polar Team2 System crunches the data with an algorithm and assigns a unique number of points that represents the player’s ability/capacity. This information can be used to prevent injury during training.

So consider a player on the U.S. team during the Women’s World Cup who has a weekly point threshold of 1,000 points. If she tallies 300 points in a 90-minute game based on her workload, that means she has 700 points left to use for the rest of the week. Coaches will have to make sure she’s not pushed too hard, yet still gets enough training so she doesn’t regress.

I know I’ve seen players get burned out in sports halfway through a game. So, this system is really going to be a game changer. Of course, just like most things in life, a player can choose to ignore the information and risk injury. Will coaches reprimand the player for risk taking? What are the implications for medical insurance if a player is injured after they have been warned and are using a heart rate monitor? I don’t even know that answer, but I’m guessing for now there is no problem. It just seems like this may be something more like Gattaca in the future for sports. For now, I think it is awesome to have a sophisticated system that can take into account many values and create a decent guess for a workout zone. Wishing you had a heart rate monitor? It just so happens that we carry Polar’s Heart Rate Educational Starter Pack which is great for makers. You wear the sensor around your chest and you just need an Arduino to set up the unit which blinks the LED to your heart rate. This is wireless, but don’t go running across a soccer field because it has a range of just 4′. Still, this is pretty cool because you can even pair it with equipment at your gym that is Polar Wear Link compatible. Let the exercise begin!


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