Switches in Sports: A Switch for Every Pitch

This is part of a series of stories investigating the use and potential use of switches in sports.

At least 1.5 billion people will tune into the 2022 World Cup to watch the best football players in the world represent their countries on the pitches of Qatar. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world by far, and much of that is due to accessibility. All you need is a ball to play, but soccer’s popularity is also due to the history of the game. Relative to American football (and just about anything else), soccer is ancient. While the sport was formalized in England in the 19th Century, the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese all appear to have played games involving feet and a ball in the third century B.C.

It’s no surprise then that soccer led the way in using switch technology in sports, with sports like basketball and hockey soon following suit. Tracking solutions like the Catapult Vector have become the go-to technology in soccer for monitoring player fitness and movements and the intensity of those movements. You’ll likely see players wearing these devices while watching the World Cup, as the Vector is ETPS certified for use in FIFA competition.

The Vector tracking device is inserted into a sort of bra players wear under their kit during training and matches to provide managers and trainers insights into their fitness and movements. Those insights are logged in an application that can be accessed via a laptop, iPhone, or Apple Watch. Other similar devices are also compatible with Android devices.

TL1016 Right Angle, Miniature Tact Switches

Given the small size of the Vector tracking device, as well as the devices used to analyze the data it collects, tactile switches are essential to analyzing athletic performance of soccer players. Right angle tactile switches are often a perfect fit for these devices where buttons tend to be mounted on the outside edge of the circuit board. For these types of applications, we recommend the TL1016 Series micro-miniature, right angle tact switch.

The TL1016 Series measures just 3.5 by 3.5 millimeters and features a long life expectancy of up to 100,000 cycles. They operate in temperatures ranging from -40 to 85°C, so weather is never an issue. A ground terminal option is also available on these switches, which are delivered in tape and reel packaging with 3,500 pieces per reel for automated soldering.

Low profile switches are often needed for these tracking solutions, too, and the TL4110 Series low profile tact switch can answer that call. The TL4110 Series is even smaller than the TL1016, measuring 2.0 by 2.8 millimeters with a minimal profile, making it ideal for wearable devices like smartwatches. The TL4110 Series also operates in temperatures ranging from -40 to 85°C and features a longer life expectancy than the TL1016: 300,000 cycles.  

If your GPS tracking device requires automated soldering with a water wash cycle, a process sealed, right angle switch like the TL6110 Series could be the answer. It also has the longest life expectancy of any E-Switch right-angle tact switch: one million cycles. With four different operating force options ranging from 130 grams to 500 grams, the TL6110 Series is the ideal switch series for consumer electronics devices manufactured in an automated means.

While watching the World Cup, keep an eye on the team managers. They’ll likely be reviewing data on a tablet throughout matches, but they aren’t just looking at players’ vitals and monitoring their movements. With software solutions like Rezzil’s Elite Analysis, managers can view a real-time pitch control overlay, or Voronoi diagram. This shows managers the average space each player controls on the pitch, allowing for in-game adjustments and smart substitutions to be made.

Managers also get live shot maps, touch maps, and heatmaps, and accurate player heights are used to enhance their experience and identify areas to attack. Virtual tactical cameras allow managers to view the 18-yard box from the top down, behind either goal, from the corners, and more. All of this is what they’re likely reviewing on the sidelines of the pitch during match play.

While you watch the 2022 World Cup, don’t forget about the switch technology that has helped improve the quality of “the beautiful game.”  

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