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16 June 2006 PR 06/69

Loughborough spin-out launches invention to capture a footballer’s ball striking ability

Remarkable World Cup goals and the innovation of adidas +Teamgeist, the official 2006 FIFA World Cup match ball, are currently the subject of great public interest - witness the spectacular swerve of Torsten Frings’ final goal in Germany’s 4-2 victory over Costa Rica. If we can pinpoint exactly what affects the flightpath of a football, can players and coaches use this knowledge to improve ball striking technique? After years researching the dynamic testing of footballs including first-hand experience working with adidas to test +Teamgeist, Loughborough University expert Paul Neilson is part of the team of inventors at Sports Dynamics Ltd, the company behind the world’s first coaching tool to objectively measure the killer skill of the perfect strike.

As is the case in many ball sports, spin is an important factor affecting dynamic ball performance. “If a player can impart a sufficiently high spin rate, whilst controlling the axis of spin, this will result in a ‘curved’ trajectory enabling the player to ‘bend’ the ball in flight. But a ball that is struck cleanly with minimal spin can travel at much faster speeds and sometimes be subject to more complex aerodynamic forces” says Dr Neilson. He continues, “At the 2002 World Cup, 38% of goals were scored from set pieces, further illustrating the importance of good ball striking technique for tactical situations.”

Developed by Sports Dynamics Ltd, a Loughborough University spin-out, QuinSpin provides football coaches, managers and players with objective, real-time measurements of ball speed, elevation, spin rate and spin axis. Neilson believes QuinSpin will provide a dramatic breakthrough in coaching as technique analysis in football and many other ball sports can be very subjective. “Now coaches will be able to quantify a fundamental football skill in a way that previously could only be described qualitatively”. He continues, “This data can also be archived to build up individual player profiles, helping players develop their weaker foot and of course monitoring the return to form after injury”, which is another topical issue, given Wayne Rooney’s current foot injury.

The system, which will be on the market in July, uses distinctive balls featuring a unique arrangement of reflective dots to measure 3-dimensional ball spin. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, sensors are triggered the moment the ball is kicked; instantaneously capturing the ball flight characteristics as well as providing slow motion action replay. All information is immediately displayed on a PC for instant analysis and, over time, an invaluable library of comparative data can be built up.

QuinSpin has already been demonstrated to a number of English Premier League clubs, Championship clubs and official bodies. The system was launched internationally at the NSCAA soccer coach convention in Philadelphia and has sparked significant interest in US coaches in colleges and academies. The first systems are expected to be in commercial use very shortly and a number of new product developments are in the pipeline.

Ends

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Notes to editors

1. Paul Neilson is available for interviews and demonstrations of the QuinSpin system by contacting Anna Seddon.

2. Visit http://www.quinspin.com

Sports Dynamics Ltd

Founded in 2003, Sports Dynamics Ltd (SDL) is a spin-out company from Loughborough’s Sports Technology Research Group concerned with the commercial application of technology to sport, specifically focusing on the measurement of ball flight characteristics. The primary aim of the Company is to develop products that will enhance coaching and analysis within the sports community through the use of innovative concepts and new technologies. In October 2004 SDL obtained an investment of £250,000 from the Lachesis fund to enable SDL to bring the QuinSpin system to market. The Lachesis fund is the University Challenge Seed Fund that accelerates the most promising research from five of the East Midlands universities. The Lachesis fund is managed by Quester Capital Management.

Sports Technology Research Group

Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Research Group is the largest group of its kind in the world, with a multi-million pound research income. The Group has been working at the forefront of new technologies for leading names in the sports and fitness industry for almost 20 years and currently has over 25 projects ongoing. The Group receives substantial income from key industrial collaborators including adidas, Callaway Golf, Canterbury, Dunlop-Slazenger, Head, Nike, and Reebok.

3. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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