When you hear bra, what comes to your mind? The piece of undergarment that women wear to hold their breasts from wobbling while they move, right?
Well, men’s breasts don’t wobble but why do soccer players wear bras? If you are thinking along this line, you are far from the answer.
The bras used by women are to support their breasts to lower the pressure on their back, shoulder, and neck as well as to reduce discomfort when they are in motion.
The continuous motion of the breasts can lead to sagging, soreness, and pain. Sports bras are made to lower motion. This makes an essential for every sportswoman during exercise, irrespective of their breast size.
In the case of men, it is a high-tech device with a GPS tracker and sensors that monitor physical performance and health.
That bra-like clothing is called an athletic vest or chest vest. For this article, we will be using those terms interchangeably. But why is it so important? Read on to find out.
- Why do soccer players wear bras?
- What stats do soccer bras track?
- Other important questions about soccer bras
Why do soccer players wear bras?
For female soccer players, the answer is almost straightforward but for men, it is a little bit complex.
The process of selecting the starting eleven of every team is tedious. Perhaps, you might have at one point or another wondered why the coach chose to field a player over another you thought was a better fit.
This is partly where the chest vest comes in handy. Although they are mostly worn by players during training sessions, you will still find some players wearing them in competitive games.
From Lionel Messi to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Virgil Van Dijk, below are some of the reasons why soccer players wear bras.
1. Improve player selection
In addition to the GPS system, there are gyroscopes and accelerometers attached to the athletic vest.
They measure different parameters including energy exerted on each movement, how hard players are accelerating or decelerating, the strain on their muscles, explosion rate, and heart rate.
The team’s data scientists track these numbers in real-time and use them to monitor player performance.
Therefore, using the result from the data analysis, the coach can easily adapt the team to any style of play—and know which player to fit into different roles.
Using the data, the coach can also direct the players on how to play to conserve energy so that they can outsmart their opponent.
This cutting-edge technology provides accurate and clear data that eliminates guesswork which coaches relied on in the past.
2. Assist in recovery during rehabilitation
Soccer is a contact sport and the chances of getting injured are high. Every now and then we hear of players being out of play for a couple of weeks due to a torn ligament or twisted ankle.
One of the most recent was the skull fracture suffered by Raul Jimenez during a collision with David Luiz. It left him out for the rest of the season.
During recovery, these players go through a rehabilitation process that helps to get their bodies ready for the field.
During this time, they have to limit their work rate to a certain percentage to allow the bone, ligament or wound to heal.
Therapists use this vest to monitor the player’s mileage and how much energy they exert so that they don’t exert more than acceptable for their smooth recovery.
3. Prevent player injury
After the resumption of leagues, the match schedules were readjusted to make up for the lost time. This meant tight fixtures with players having to play more matches per week.
To prevent burnout, more Premier League clubs started relying on bras to get live data of players during games.
Brazil and England are among the countries that make use of this technology. At the club level, Manchester United and Liverpool also use this technology.
4. Track player development
It’s hard to judge player development by just looking at them. For example, if a player is accelerating faster or burning more energy, it is hard to tell by just looking at their face.
However, with the vest, the team doctors and coaches can monitor patterns and properly access player development. This will also help the management to tailor workout sessions for each player.
5. Players can work on personal development
Interestingly, the stats from the bras are available for players. Some players like Cristiano Ronaldo spend an incredible amount of time on personal training.
While some players may not be interested in their metrics, those that are a huge fan of personal training will need it to know the areas they need to improve.
They can also discuss this with their personal trainers so that they can come up with tailored workout sessions to help them improve on targeted areas.
What stats do soccer bras track?
We briefly mentioned some of the parameters that the GPS tracking device in athletic vests measure earlier. However, for better understanding, it will be nice to look at these parameters in more detail and see why they are important for a player’s development.
The GPS tracker inside the athletic vest can monitor a player’s top speed. Fans are usually curious to know the sprint speed of their favorite player and one of the closest ways of getting this information is through the FIFA video game.
According to FIFA 21, the fastest Premier League player is Adama Traore of Wolves with a sprint speed of 96. Lucas Moura of Tottenham wraps the top ten spot with a sprint speed of 92.
With this stat, a player like Lucas Moura can see how fast he could be by looking at the rating of other players.
Using this data, the coaching staff can create personalized training sessions that will help him improve his speed.
Eventually, they can use the bras to determine if the training session was effective or not. If there is a need to modify his training, they will also know.
2. Heart rate
Heart rate is the measure of the number of times the heartbeats per minute. With heart rate data, it is easy to tell a player that is burning out. In other words, it can detect fatigue.
Increasing heart rate can be a sign of exhaustion, fatigue, or dehydration. Burnout can lead to irreversible heart damage and irregular heart rhythm. Fast strikers like Kylian Mbappe are prone to fatigue.
Equipped with data from the chest vest, the coaching staff can easily tell a player that is showing signs of fatigue.
Consequently, they can structure training sessions that focus on alertness (like shooting) and less on cardio.
3. Distance covered
You might have heard commentators talk about the distance a player has covered while the match is still on.
Sometimes, this information is displayed on one side of the screen. This is partly possible because of the athletic vest.
Commentators are not the only ones that benefit from this information when used in real-time. The coaching staff usually has the data of the maximum distance each player can cover.
When a player has covered more distance than their endurance can take, the coach knows it is time to take them off.
Teams usually rely on their wingers when launching a counterattack. When the defense shoots a long pass, they need a player with good acceleration to catch up to it.
Defenders with good acceleration often make overlapping runs to catch the defenders of the opposing team off-guard.
When a first-team player is injured, a coach might want a player to improve in their acceleration so that they can fit into a new role.
The vest will help the coaching staff to determine if the replacement player is improving or not.
Other important questions about soccer bras
The chest vest is one of the most controversial soccer gadgets to date. While the reason for wearing the vests is glaring, there are other questions that usually come up during arguments. Some of them are listed below.
Why do athletic vests look like bras?
Perhaps, you are one of those wondering why the athletic vest had to look like bras? Well, the designers had a reason for that.
Firstly, the manufacturers needed a location to fix the GPS that would not impede the player’s performance or limit their movement. The most ideal place was between the shoulder blades on the back.
Also, for the GPS tracker to work efficiently, it needed to be securely attached to the player.
Therefore, the manufacturers decided that the best option was for the player to wear a gear that looks like cloth but with a pocket on the back for the GPS pod to fit in.
What do soccer players wear around their chests?
Soccer players wear a vest that looks like a bra that holds a GPS tracker. The vests are skin-tight so that the tracker can be as close to the skin as possible and monitor the player’s performance. Players mostly wear it during the training session—although some wear it in live matches.
What do soccer players wear under their uniforms?
Apart from bras, soccer players sometimes wear undershirts. You will notice that some players wear a long-sleeved shirt under their short-sleeve uniform. That long-sleeve is called a base layer.
The long-sleeve is designed to trap a thin layer of warm air that keeps the player warm when playing under freezing temperatures. It can also pull sweat away from the body to keep the player cool.
Obviously, the athletic vest benefits both the player and the entire club. Professional soccer players are seen as assets and the clubs want to make the most out of the players.
Thus, the vest can point out which areas the player needs to improve and determine if the player is improving or not. One thing is clear, it is a technology that every soccer player will accept—sooner or later.
Read more: Why Do Soccer Players Shave Their Legs?
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!