Inspiring young footballers
KickTrix is a new soccer training system designed to inspire young footballers to develop their skills and fitness indoors. A ‘wirelessly connected’ product supports a tethered ball and simulates the natural movements and behaviour required to keep a ball in the air.
KickTrix has different difficulty levels and enables friends to play competitively whilst recording results. User trials have demonstrated that youngsters become highly motivated and quickly and confidently learn the correct skills.
ability & fitness
KickTrix was founded by Anthony Hamilton who has a proven record in sports training development, in particular with motor racing. Anthony develops systematic approaches to physical activity preparation, leading to greater success and confidence building. With children this learning experience is carried forward into later life. The KickTrix philosophy includes coaches and users in the product development process, leading to solutions that are fun to use but based on sound training principles.
Ball control skills are difficult for young people to acquire, especially indoors, and lack of fitness is becoming a real social problem. KickTrix was created as an enjoyable and safe game experience based on a scientific approach, utilising technology to encourage self-motivation. To be successful the product needed to be fun and also provide a competitive element both for self-improvement and peer to peer rivalry. Professional coaches were involved in user scenario research with test rigs.
The challenge was to replicate the motion and experience of kicking a ball in free space whilst tethered. To also create long term interest and motivation by utilising an electronic gaming approach with a physical product. Value engineering and high volume production methods were incorporated to achieve a consumer product price point; this included researching the latest fully automated rotational moulding machinery from Italy and developing new insert and over moulding methods in Taiwan.
Research was primarily based on testing a product proposition arising from parallel work in other sports fields. User insight/scenario research involving sports coaches and youngsters was based on a series of test rigs, developed over time. Videos were taken and later analysed to improve the next design iteration. Some objectives from the original proposition were refined based on the learning arising from the research but the key elements of skills, fitness and motivation maintained.
Proof of principle rigs were developed to establish the correct geometry and material combinations. The solution utilises an injection moulded tether with a special grade polyamide core, over moulded in TPE. The ball carrier/pivot is also injection moulded. The base is rotationally moulded polyethylene, filled with sand for stability. New sensor methods were developed to count the number of kicks and the electronics and display are housed securely in their own injection moulded enclosures within the base.
The KickTrix game experience is based on keeping a freely rotating ball in the air for the maximum time by kicking with a combination of left and right feet. The ball has lines to assist body alignment, helping to develop/reinforce good technique. A flexible tether has two positions to increase the degree of difficulty and the game is enhanced by electronic kick counting, stored in memory. An associated ‘app’ allows interaction with the data and also lets two players compete in real time.