Will technology change how children play football?

Technology and football. It’s a subject that needs no introduction. The Premier League has had goal line technology for a couple of years now and it is set to be joined by VAR ahead of the 2019-20 season.

VAR itself is hugely controversial, especially after a summer littered with high-profile incidents across the Women’s World Cup, the European Under 21 Championships and the UEFA Nations League Finals.

Now, nobody is expecting VAR to start popping up in youth league football across the United Kingdom anytime soon. But there are other technologies that could start to change the way our children play football in the very near future.

Artificial pitches increase participation

In case you didn’t know, the United Kingdom is quite a wet country. When the winter months arrive, that means that pitches turn into mud baths which prevent good football being played – presuming matches aren’t cancelled altogether due to waterlogging.

The FA have realised this and are investing vast amounts in 3G pitches up and down the country. The governing body even wanted to sell off Wembley and use the profits to transform facilities for grassroots football, a controversial and yet sensible idea that was eventually blocked by the FA Council. Schools are also building Astro facilities across the country which is also leading to higher participation rates in sport and a safer environment for children.

Still, the revolution continues as modifications to artificial pitches are improving the standard of these types of surface all the time. What’s more, they also encourage passing, possession-based football which can only be good news for the development of technically sound, young English players.

It’s not too hard to imagine a situation in the not-too-distant future when the majority of kids’ football is played on artificial pitches rather than grass.

Advances in video technology and analytics make it easier for games to be filmed

Once upon a time, the only time a kid ever got to watch themselves playing football was if a parent or grandparent had stood on the side lines with a shaky home video camera. Analysis would go as far as somebody stood within earshot, who would normally be moaning about every child on the team but their own.

Video technology and analytics has come on massively over the last five years or so. It’s now easy, cheap and affordable to have training sessions and matches filmed, even at youth level. There are companies out there who will offer this service as well as producing individual clips with a quick turnaround time, allowing coaches and players to analyse their own performances in real depth.

In theory, that should improve the standard of young players in the country. Being able to watch passages of play back and highlight areas which need to be worked on can help players develop both their skills and game management. It can also make for a pretty cool highlights reel on YouTube, too.

DashTag will turn kids into FIFA stars

DashTag is already proving to be hugely popular among young players in America. Although it is yet to take off in quite the same way over here, it does seem to be a question of when, rather than if, it will start to gain traction with British kids.

You might be asking what is DashTag? Well, it’s an app which can be downloaded to an Apple Watch or a specialist sensor and which records all kinds of biochemical and positional data during a game of football, which is then downloaded to the player’s phone.

Speed, mileage, time, acceleration, energy levels and positions are all among the data that is analysed, and most excitingly of all for kids, it is then turned into scores – giving them real-life rankings like those used in FIFA for their performances.

They can then share their scores online, allowing them to compete with their friends to see who had the best performance that day. With a growing number of kids more obsessed with building up their stats on computer games rather than kicking a ball around in real life, it’s hoped that DashTag and technology like it could encourage them to ditch the PlayStation and get out and play the sport properly.

Football is ever growing and ever changing, thankfully despite new technology it still remains the most popular sport. For the latest developments of the football landscape, take a look at our blogs and coaching articles.

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