NORWICH may be the Premier League whipping boys so far this season, but they are currently topping the innovation charts.
The Canaries officially opened their rejuvenated and redeveloped training ground – the Lotus Training Centre – last Thursday.
Among the additions at the multi-million pound complex – transformed over the past five years thanks largely to fan funding – is a revolutionary piece of software called ‘SoccerBot360’.
The £250,000 system is the first of its kind not only in the Premier League but the UK, with Norwich becoming just the third professional club in the world to install the kit.
Alongside RB Leipzig and the RB Academy in Salzburg, the Norfolk-based side now have permanent access to the 360-degree projector screen surrounding an 80 square-metre 4G strip.
Norwich first became aware of the software back in 2019 on a trip to Germany, and had it installed six weeks ago following the approval of Sporting Director Stuart Webber and manager Daniel Farke.
They have taken the plunge to gain an advantage over their financially superior opponents, specifically in player development.
Its purpose is multi-faceted, but mainly it is to develop a player’s scanning ability, first touch, passing skills and speed of thought by hitting a ball off the walls.
The software also includes programmes that allow players to relive real-life in-game situations to prepare to face specific opponents.
It is virtual reality, but like nothing we have seen before, and without the silly goggles used by the likes of Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football.
In short, it is seen as the future of enhancing a player’s cognitive and perceptual skills in a fixed environment.
SoccerBot360 CEO and founder Daniel Held expects other Premier League clubs to follow suit after Norwich.
He said: “There are people in football who think everything should stay as it is, that it is all about the training on the pitch.
“People take some time to really understand that we are not about replacing that, but bringing something you cannot do on the pitch.”
He continued: “We think we have laboratory conditions.
“For every player it is the same task, the same environment, the same measurements so after a few minutes we have a strong idea about the skills of the player.
“On the pitch you maybe need two or three days to watch him.
“This is the future of football training, and we are just at the beginning of that.”
The idea for SoccerBot360 was first developed in 2014 by Held, originally aiming to bring active gaming to kids before experts suggested football would be a prime market.
Ex-Director of Football at Leipzig Ralf Rangnick described it as: ‘PlayStation, but in reality’, while full-back… Brinkwire Brief News.