One of the best ways to improve your fitness, technique, and movement around a soccer field is to use a GPS tracker vest. However, there are several different GPS trackers out there, and it can be hard to know what one is the best option for you.
In this article, I want to show you what I believe are the best two options. I’ll describe their pros and cons and help you make the best decision for you.
The best soccer GPS trackers are:
- The Catapult PLAYR SmartCoach System
- STATSports Apex Athlete Series GPS Performance Tracker
Both these GPS trackers can be game-changing products for you. Keep reading to find out which one I prefer as well as gain confidence that you are purchasing the best one for you.
In this article, we’ll be looking at GPS tracker vests. If you are actually more interested in a watch fitness tracker, then I recommend heading over to my article on the five best fitness trackers for soccer players. Or for one that straps around your cleats, check out my Playermaker review.
Why You Should Get a Soccer GPS Tracker Vest
If you have spent any time recently watching pro soccer players train, you will have noticed that almost all of them use GPS tracker vests. (Although it seems that some people don’t actually realize that’s what they are, but I’ve attempted to explain that here.)
Millions of dollars are spent every year on improving the performance of top soccer players. They know that GPS tracker vests are one of the best ways to monitor how a player is doing.
There are several reasons why using a GPS tracker is advantageous.
- It can help prevent injury
- It provides objective data about a players performance
- It can be used to personalize training regimes to the individual player’s needs
With a GPS tracker, the coach or individual player can monitor their activity and assess whether they are pushing themselves too hard without allowing time for their body to recover. This increases their risk of injury.
Multiple studies, such as this one, have shown that lack of rest and recovery time after intense activity increases a player’s risk of injury.
The data from the tracker can aid a player in reducing their risk of injury.
A soccer GPS tracker also provides objective data for the player and coach to analyze.
This is a significant modern development. For years, players and coaches have had only their subjective observations and opinions to go on when deciding how a player is doing or how hard they are pushing themselves.
The tracker removes the guesswork and provides specific numbers and metrics to assess a player’s performance.
Due to the data the trackers provide on each individual player, a personalized training program can be created that builds on the individual’s specific needs.
Here’s an example of this.
In the past, a coach may have required the whole team to work on their speed because they felt the team, as a whole, wasn’t quick enough around the soccer field.
Now, with the GPS tracker, a coach can see how each individual is performing on their speed metrics and work only with the players who are struggling. This gives time and space for others to work on an area where they may need work.
Getting hold of a wearable soccer GPS tracker vest for yourself, your team, or maybe even your child, has the potential to completely transform each player’s game. The information they provide can take a player’s game to the next level, and after using one of these, I’m confident that you will never look back.
1. Catapult PLAYR GPS Tracker (My Number 1 Recommendation)
My top recommendation for a wearable soccer GPS tracker vest is the Catapult PLAYR SmartCoach System.
- Lightweight and durable
- Approved by FIFA
- Great data and advice
- No heart rate monitor
- No live tracking
Designed with the athlete in mind, the PLAYR soccer GPS tracker by Catapult is lightweight and made of an elastic material that is surprisingly comfortable to wear for both men and women. In fact, once it is on, it’s easy to forget you are even wearing it.
The vest uses the latest technology, designed to handle high temperatures and humidity, and the heavy sweating that playing soccer can produce. It’s also totally rainproof and can be worn on top or under your soccer jersey.
The GPS Pod
On the back of the vest, between a player’s shoulder blades, sit’s a small pocket where you place the GPS pod.
The GPS pod contains a lithium-ion battery that should last for five hours on a single charge. This gives you the option of using it for multiple games without worrying about it running out of battery.
One significant bit of attention to detail that I really appreciate about this vest this that the GPS pod will automatically turn on once you place it in the vest. This means that you don’t need to worry about forgetting to turn it on and missing out on your stats. The GPS pod does this for you and will stay on for the entire session.
The GPS also operates as a standalone device, meaning you don’t need your phone or any other device nearby for it to work.
Have a look at the video below to see the PLAYR tracker vest being unboxed.
Once the game or training session is over is when the benefit of wearing a GPS tracker becomes really obvious.
Set Up and Metrics
The process of setting the device up is straightforward and user-friendly. You simply download the app, sync it with the GPS tracker via Bluetooth, and watch as the app displays all the essential metrics and stats from your previous game or training session.
Have a look at this video below to see all the metrics and information this GPS tracker vest provides.
As you can see, PLAYR provides a wide range of metrics to assess a player’s performance. These include;
- sprint distance
- total distance covered
- top speed
- power plays
- load and intensity metrics
- a GPS positional heat map
Having all this information at your fingertips is a great place to start. Identifying what is happening out on the soccer field and assessing how the player can improve and reach a higher level than they are already at.
The app also saves your previous sessions so you can see how you’re improving over time. You can also use the previous information as a benchmark to beat the next time you’re playing.
Insights and Advice
Alongside the stats and information, the app also provides insights, advice, and tips from professional coaches on how to improve. The more you use this tracker, the more accurate insights you will receive.
I think this feature is one of the best things about this product.
It is like having access to some of the top coaches in the game. And they are not just providing general advice, but advice that is specific to the individual and based on the results of the previous training sessions. They even offer advice on the best meals to eat.
The information provided is a great way to keep any player accountable and clearly show when someone isn’t working as hard as they can. You can see when you’re well-conditioned and also know when you haven’t put in quite as much effort as you should have!
Have a look at an overview of this tracker from soccer performance consultant, Chris Barnes.
Because of the connection to a GPS system, the accuracy of the stats is incredible. The GPS device records around 1,200 movements per second! And all of that at an accuracy within about 3 feet.
It’s not uncommon to be able to review the information on the app after a game and be reminded of precisely what was happening at that moment.
Another fun and useful feature is that the app will compare your stats to a professional player’s stats. Although you may not yet be close to pro-level, it does give you something to aim for and an incentive to keep setting personal bests each time you wear the vest!
If you are still unsure, have a look at this video review below.
I really believe this is a necessary product that any serious soccer player of any age needs if they want to take their game to the next level.
- The vest is comfortable to wear
- The GPS tracker is incredibly accurate
- The GPS tracker and app are simple to use and understand
- The metrics are clear and useful and objective
- The individually tailored advice given on the app is helpful and insightful
- New features are added regularly
- The entire product is great value for money
If you want to check out the PLAYR GPS tracker, click here or on the button below to go straight to Amazon where you can purchase it now for a really affordable price.
2. STATSports Apex GPS Tracker (The Alternative)
The STATSports Apex GPS tracker vest is an incredible piece of equipment.
- Accurate stats
- Great user interface
- Live tracking
- Heart rate tracking
- More expensive than the PLAYR
The reason the STATSports Apex GPS tracker vest is in second place on my recommendations is that it will cost you around $100 more than the PLAYR GPS tracker, but it does everything the PLAYR GPS tracker vest does with only two notable improvements.
Now, having access to this extra information may be precisely what you are looking for. You may decide this is the GPS tracker for you, but for most amateur players, the PLAYR GPS vest will give them everything they need.
Difference Between the Trackers
The main difference between the PLAYR GPS tracker and the STATSports tracker is that the STATSports GPS tracker gives you access to live tracking and heart rate monitor.
Similarly to the PLAYR tracker, the STATSports tracker gives you stats on:
- Your max speed
- Total distance covered
- How many sprints you did
- Average Pace
- Your heat map to show where you were on the field
However, as well as this, the STATSports tracker provides live tracking and access to a heart rate monitor.
Live tracking means that anyone, maybe a coach or a parent on the sidelines with a mobile device, can connect to the player’s GPS vest and observe the player’s stats “live” throughout a game or training session.
This can be a beneficial way of monitoring how a player is doing and potentially advising them on how they can improve or be more effective while the game is still underway.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Monitoring a player’s heart rate during a training session or game can be another useful metric to have at hand when assessing a soccer player’s performance. And the STATSports GPS tracker vest is capable of providing this information. But only in connection with an external heart rate monitor. This is important to realize before purchasing this vest!
The STATSports GPS pod does not monitor heart rate independently.
If you do decide to purchase this GPS tracker and want to monitor your or another player’s, heart rate then STATSports recommend you purchase a STATSports Magnetic HR monitor (chest strap) or a Scosche Rhythm+ BLE HR monitor (arm strap). [source]
They say it is compatible with magnetic & BLE ‘arm-based’ monitors but won’t 100% guarantee any other heart rate monitor will be reliable with their product apart from the STATSports Magnetic HR monitor (chest strap) or Scosche Rhythm+ BLE HR monitor (arm strap).
If you do want to purchase one of these heart rate monitors, then you will find the Scosche Rhythm+ BLE HR monitor on Amazon by clicking here.
I think that tracking a player’s heart rate can be an incredibly useful tool, but you have to be prepared to pay extra for it.
Pro Player Recommendation
In this video below, you will see a short interview with US national soccer player Mallory Pugh.
In the interview, she talks about how the STATSports Apex GPS tracker vest has really helped her and is also great for a soccer player at any level of the game.
You will also have noticed that during the interview, it was mentioned how the app connected to the GPS tracker could help with preventing injuries in players.
Professional Advice and Tips
The STATSports Athlete Series App is excellent at suggesting options for how to recover effectively from a previous workout and help prevent the player from pushing their body too far, risking injury and damage before the next game.
In fact, the Athlete Series App that comes with the tracker provides a wealth of tips, advice, and other information on how to improve your game. And all the recommendations are based on the information that the tracker is providing.
If you’re still unsure, have a look at this video review below.
As I mentioned above, the STATSports GPS tracker vest is a truly great product that I have no doubt would improve the ability of any soccer player.
If you’re willing to pay a bit more money than you would for the Catapult PLAYR, you will receive a superior product. But for most people, the Catapult PLAYR will be more than enough.
If you’re interested in purchasing a STATSports soccer GPS tracker vest or just finding out more, click here or on the button below to go to soccer.com (probably the premium online soccer retailer) and have a look for yourself.
If you are interested in more soccer information, check out one of my other articles: