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29 June 2012 | PR 12/119

Dynamic partnership reveals the ultimate free kick in 3D

The UK’s leading sports engineers, an innovative British technology company and specialist kicking coach, Bartek Sylwestrzak, have worked in partnership to look in 3D detail at one of the world’s most sought after football techniques.

Globally, only a handful of players can consistently apply topspin to a ball allowing a player to hit it up and over a defensive wall while dipping under the cross bar with power.  These include the Brazilians Juninho Pernabucano and Marco Assunção.  A most recent high profile example came from Italy’s Andrea Pirlo and his goal against Croatia in the 2012 UEFA European Championships; Pirlo went on to be instrumental in the defeat of England this week.

After years of studying these kicks – and drawing on the expertise of Loughborough’s Dr Mark King (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences) and Dr Sean Mitchell (Sports Technology Institute) – Bartek Sylwestrzak, a Loughborough University Sport and Exercise Sciences graduate, is now coaching this technique to a number of professional players.

Midlands-based Charnwood Dynamics worked in partnership with Loughborough University to use its new outdoor 3D motion analysis system, Codasport, to look for the first time into the movement of the lower body and in particular the foot during a number of strikes from players trained by Bartek.  This was made possible with government funding (Research Council), designed to enable companies to engage with British universities, in this case Loughborough’s Sports Technology Research Group.  The Group has a global reputation for working with sports brands including adidas, with a long history of carrying out research to support the development of footballs used in major international tournaments including the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  

A cluster of strategically-placed sensors, capable of withstanding kicks traveling at over 100 kilometres an hour, instantly relays invaluable objective data in high resolution detail in a pitch environment.  Previously, this data could only be captured in laboratory tests.  The new system is portable, quick to set up and can operate in bright light such as sunlight or floodlighting.

Ashley Gray, Loughborough’s sports technology expert seconded to work with Charnwood Dynamics said, “For the first time ever it is has been possible to look at this forward spin technique on the pitch in minute detail, allowing us to focus in on key elements to really get inside what is happening with this most potent of free kicks.”

The method developed and results from the collaboration could help coaches and players refine such techniques to become more successful and consistent in the future. The data provided by the system can also offer invaluable insights for injury prevention during sports where a crucial technique is repeated many times.  Loughborough’s research team and Charnwood Dynamics have just returned from the Wimbledon qualifiers where they have been measuring spinal motion during the service action.


For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon
Marketing Manager (Enterprise)
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

A film about revealing the free kick in 3D is available on Loughborough University’s YouTube site。 Ashley Gray is available for interview and demonstrations of the system can be arranged.  Please contact Anna Seddon (details above) for further details.

About Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute
Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute is a £15M facility housing the Sports Technology Research Group, whose mission is to have a positive global, social and economic impact on sport through excellent engineering research, teaching and enterprise.  The Institute is home to the Sports Technology Research Group, one of the world’s leading research groups of its kind and the largest in the UK. The Group has established an international reputation for its work with global brands including adidas, Callaway Golf, Canterbury of New Zealand, Dunlop, Head, New Balance, Nike, Reebok, Slazenger, Spalding, Speedo and Umbro on the design, simulation, testing and manufacture of sporting goods.

About Charnwood Dynamics
Based on a research heritage that stretches back to the 1970s, Charnwood Dynamics Ltd was established as a trading company in 1988. Throughout its long history, it has remained passionately dedicated to providing quality 3D Movement Analysis Solutions.  Today, this dedication to excellence extends across hardware, software, technical support and consultancy. The world-leading Codamotion range of systems is built in-house, and can be supplied with a range of devices such as force plates and EMG systems. The company head office is in the United Kingdom in Rothley, Leicestershire.

Research Council funding for knowledge transfer
Loughborough University is one of only 12 UK university to be awarded an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Knowledge Transfer Account to accelerate and increase the social and economic impact of its research.  The initiative builds on Loughborough's strong links with industry through a range of activities, including two-way secondments, continuing professional development and opportunities to exploit leading-edge research through licensing or new business creation.

About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for theBest Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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