Viz Libero for Coaches shortlisted for Sports Technology Award

Sports coaches turn to broadcast tech such as Viz Libero for player development and scouting.

Viz Libero's unique capabilities to help coaches visualize keys moments in a game has been shortlisted for the Sports Technology Award Best Technology for Managers and Coaches.

Article originally published by Sport Techie.

There is a quiet revolution taking place on the training field as sports coaches turn to broadcast technology to enrich player development and scouting through the power of video graphics. “Football analysis has really progressed in the last few years, but what hadn’t moved on so much is how that data was being presented during training or coaching sessions. Even now, you still see coaches using magnetic boards and talking around a video clip, and it’s all pretty abstract.” That’s the opinion of David Burke, head of technical analysis at Derby County Football Club, one of the first professional sports teams to recognise the potential of using broadcast analysis tool Viz Libero for player development.

The powerful system, which broadcasters worldwide have been using to enhance analysis in live sports coverage, provides realistic 3D replays and virtual enhancements to video. The unique perspectives that it creates are designed to bring viewers into the game and quickly and easily analyse a situation or flashpoint on the pitch. “This method of getting across a complex message quickly, clearly and easily, using graphics overlaid onto video clips has caught the eye of sports coaches, and we’re getting a lot of enquiries,” said Stephan Würmlin Stadler, Executive VP, sports at Vizrt, a specialist in creating production tools, including Viz Libero, for the digital media industry.

Derby County implemented Viz Libero into its coaching practices in the build up to the 2015/16 season following the arrival of new manager Paul Clement, who moved to the iPro Stadium from Real Madrid where he had served as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant. As David Burke says, “Viz Libero is an ideal way of demonstrating our analysis and communicating our coaching messages to the players in a very clear and visual way. We use it to provide feedback on how they’re doing in training, how they’ve done in games and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.” In the global world of football, Viz Libero is also a valuable communication tool for coaches in overcoming the language barrier with some foreign players.

All that’s required to run Viz Libero for coaching purposes is a standard laptop equipped with a good graphics card. Footage is imported and is then ready for analysis. Content can then either be played out onto a screen, or clips can be exported and sent to players to watch individually. “In terms of operation, we capture the footage ourselves using cameras with a wide-angled view placed in the stadium and at our training ground. We can then easily create animations on the footage to show the different options available to players during any given situation,” says Burke, adding: “the fact that it’s laptop-based is a big advantage as we can edit clips on the go for the manager to show players, which is ideal for long coach journeys and hotel stays.”

Among Viz Libero’s many features, several are particularly invaluable to a coaching team. These are realistic 3D replays, new perspectives from different angles, distance measurements, player moves, and automatic tracking of multiple players. Adds Burke: “The players and coaches like using this tool as it’s often easier and quicker to get a message across with pictures.”

Vizrt’s Stephan Würmlin Stadler sees several reasons for the adoption of Viz Libero by coaches, “The feedback we’re getting from our sports customers is that they like how easy it is to use, the fact that it’s laptop based so they can use it on the go, and how it enables them to turn around a large number of broadcast-quality clips. The latest feature we’ve added – integration of Opta’s comprehensive live statistical data – will be another to benefit and one more reason to use the solution for coaching.”

This collaboration with Opta, the data provider for major sport leagues and tournaments, provides users with event data from live and archived games so they can quickly and easily find content and use it to create clips for analysis. Users can then attach performance data to specific players, their movements or specially designed heat maps on the field.

As broadcasters continually enhance their sports coverage, going deeper into tactical and data analysis than ever before, the tools they use have become more advanced, yet at the same time, adaptable, user friendly and mobile. This, twinned with the increase in video analysis by sports teams, has made tools like Viz Libero extremely useful in a teaching capacity, enabling coaches to deliver messages through images rather than words.