Why do footballers wear bras? Ukrainian footballer Artem Dovbyk appeared to reveal sports bra after goal
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Many fans of the Euros were left baffled during the quarter final match between Ukraine and Sweden, when Ukrainian mid-fielder celebrated his winning goal by stripping his jersey off to reveal what looked like a sports bra.
Professional footballers are the best paid sports persons in the world, and as such, managers and clubs have become increasingly interested in the science behind the players, their best techniques and injury prevention.
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In recent year, footballers have been spotted wearing garments which resemble sports bras in many Premier League and International games.
So, why do footballers wear bras? This is what you need to know.
Why do footballers wear bras?
The bras are not used for the same purposes as a woman may wear one for - to support her breasts and reduce pressure on her shoulders, back and neck.
Instead, footballers wear the clothing to hold a GPS tracker which monitors several factors of the players physical performance and health.
The device is similar to the kinds found in a Fitbit or Apple watch, but the vests can monitor 32 different categories including speed, distance run, heart rate and acceleration.
Since 2019, the devices have been approved for use during live games. Prior to this, managers were only allowed to monitor players during training sessions.
As such, managers and coaches can now monitor performance and see who is performing well, who is burnt out and the general healthiness of players.
How do the GPS trackers support footballers’ performance?
The GPS data can inform managers which players have made the most strides, what a players sprint speed is and monitor indicators of performance to understand when a player is tired, fatigued or playing at their best.
These factors aid in deciding which players to replace on the pitch, make half-time decisions and give advice to players, and in some cases, help prevent injury.
According to The Times, a pod attached to the back of the vests collects analytics using software that monitors the movements of a player up to 1,000 times a second.
The GPS device is often linked to pods which are held on tripods at the side of the pitch and signals from the devices bounces off of these and transmits the stats into collated data.
Which clubs use GPS vests/bras?
Since 2020, more than three quarters of English Premier League teams have been using the devices at training and some players have also tested them at games.
Wolverhampton Wolves and Leeds United were among the first teams to enlist the help of the technology, followed by Liverpool and Manchester United.
National teams such as England, Ukraine and Brazil have also adopted use of the devices, as some fans may have spotted during the Euro 2020 England vs Germany knock out game at Wembley.
Brazil’s physiologist Guilherme Passos said the GPS tracking device is a useful addition understanding the conditions and causes of why players may make certain decisions on the pitch
The Brazil national team utilise STATSports device, and in a promotional video, Passos said: "It gives an opportunity to monitor the team in a live way using the iPad, so it's easier to give the coach live feedback about how their session is going, so it's a very good tool for controlling the [training] load.”
Which brands of trackers are used?
STATSports is a particularly popular brand of GPS devices, like the one worn by Dovbyk.
In 2020, Sean O'Connor, co-founder of STATSports, told The Times “People are able to take that data during games and make decisions.
“What that allows you to do is build a profile on a player. You expect a player to do X, Y, Z in training and games. When they start to move away from those norms it can be for good or bad reasons.
“If they are in a training session and there is 25 minutes left and they have gone way past what you normally expect them to do, then you can make a call to either taper it off or take them in early.
“It’s the same concept in a game as well. If the manager is deciding between two players to replace, he could ask his coach: 'what feedback can you give, physically'.”
Catapult have also designed a Playr GPS device, specifically for footballers.
Playr has been approved by FIFA as meeting International Match Standards and tracks 1250 data points per second, using GPS and sensor technology.
Other brands are available.