Speedcourt: The floor that makes athletes faster

Frank Eppelmann developed an interactive sports floor with which top athletes all over the world test and train their speed. The SpeedCourt not only addresses motor skills, but also cognitive abilities. A feature that also helps rehabilitation patients.

Manuel Neuer saves every third penalty kick. This may be due to the nerves of the players competing against one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The fact that a penalty kick against him is not a 100% chance of scoring, could also be due to a craft business from Hemsbach. Because speed is playing an increasingly central role in many sports.

“Players have to perceive situations in a split second and make the right decisions from various options,” says Frank Eppelmann, Managing Director of GlobalSpeed. Top clubs like Bayern Munich therefore rely on its development: the SpeedCourt. The sports floor, which is connected to contact sensors, enables dynamic, interactive speed training in which athletes capture visual commands and carry them out using a motor.

Involving the brain

The SpeedCourt not only addresses athletic, but also cognitive speed, because it also involves the brain. This approach is becoming more and more important in professional sports, but also in the health sector. “You are gradually realizing that training or rehab should no longer just consist of strength machines, spinning bikes and treatment benches,” says Frank Eppelmann. Rather, it is based on a holistic concept for a mostly multidirectional, dynamic movement that actually takes place on the playing field or in the world of work.

Improvement through data

Already at the beginning of the 2000s, Frank Eppelmann, as a handball coach, wanted to precisely measure the speed of his players. “That was the original idea: How can I really make an athlete better? On the basis of data and facts.

He gained his first experience with basic speed tests and simple measuring systems while studying sports science in Heidelberg. Between 2007 and 2010, the 53-year-old developed the prototype of the SpeedCourt, which was then installed at no other club than Real Madrid.

The sports scientist and sports psychologist always had a conceptual and methodological approach in mind for his development. “It is important to collect meaningful competition and training-related data.” The goal is to optimize technical processes in order to improve performance. The SpeedCourt supplies the necessary data.

Explosiveness at five meters

A SpeedCourt can vary in size, the shape of the training floor is always square. Nine fields, visually separated from the rest of the floor, are arranged in three rows. The starting point is in the middle and, depending on the model – portable or permanently installed – two or four sensors are installed here. “In the end, it’s about anticipating, reacting, acting and moving within a radius of five meters.”

Instructions at equal level

Since in almost no sport it makes sense to constantly focus on the ground, the instructions for movement are given on a monitor at eye level – in colors, as numbers, symbols or letters. “We can also import pictures or video sequences and create many interactive game situations,” says Frank Eppelmann.

Development of GlobalSpeed

  • SpeedCourt
  • SpeedTrack: a linear sprint track with contact sensors at the start and laser barrier technology for measuring individual route sections.
  • SpeedBouncer: a new development especially for soccer. For example, it measures the time and effort required to pass.
  • SpeedDMS (Dynamic Movement Skills): similar to the SpeedCourt. With the SpeedDMS, coordination tests and various jump programs can be carried out.

If these individual systems are combined together and supplemented by complementary systems, the result is a technical and methodical overall concept, the SpeedLab. Information at globalspeed.com.

The SpeedCourt system is networked with sensors, monitors, PCs and software. Depending on the customer’s requirements, the data is transferred centrally or decentrally. Since the sensor arrangement is standardized, the values obtained are comparable – if requested by the customer. “After all these years, we have an extremely interesting collection of data from various age groups and sports that enables us to work with reference values – anonymously of course,” says Frank Eppelmann. The SpeedCourt can be used alone or by several athletes at the same time. They identify themselves using RFID wristbands or fingerprint readers and receive real-time feedback on the court.

Risk of injury reduces

Increasing performance is only one aspect of the SpeedCourt. It is also used in prevention and rehabilitation. “The SpeedCourt shows how fit someone is after an injury,” says sports medicine specialist Sebastian Schneider. In his medical practice in Dreieich, the specialist in orthopedics also analyzes incorrect statics, incorrect loads and muscular imbalances. If technical processes are optimized accordingly, this reduces the risk of injury. The interplay of cognitive and motor stimuli in the rehabilitation area also helps patients in their healing process, for example after a stroke or hip operation.

Artificial turf or sports floor

The SpeedCourt can be set up both outdoors and indoors, as artificial turf or sports surface. With the company Morton Extrusionstechnik, a fiber manufacturer for artificial turf coverings from Abtsteinach in the Odenwald, GlobalSpeed developed the ideal artificial turf for the requirements of the SpeedCourt. “We spent a long time tinkering, but this solution now works extremely well for our applications,” says Frank Eppelmann.

A SpeedCourt with a sports floor covering is laid and welded in several layers. The sensors are always hidden under the square surfaces, which contrast with the rest of the floor in terms of color.

The ideal sports flooring had to meet the requirements of the indoor sports handball, basketball and volleyball. So be sure-footed, but also allow quick turns. GlobalSpeed is working with Gerflor Mipolam, the official floor covering supplier for the handball world championships. “For us, the floor has the advantage that the floor coverings have a very good force absorption, an easy-care surface and also a great look,” says Frank Eppelmann.

With a permanently installed SpeedCourt, electronics and sensors are installed seamlessly and invisibly in the floor. Because “the contact release has to work perfectly”, Frank Eppelmann relies on the technical expertise of the trade when laying a SpeedCourt with sports flooring. “This work has to be done by a professional. You can’t just stick it like that. ”This work is therefore often done by master interior decorator Hermann Klarl from Marquartstein in Bavaria. This is also the case with GlobalSpeed’s largest project to date – a Double SpeedCourt with 200 square meters – in San Francisco.

Correct flooring technology

The indoor sports flooring is laid and welded in several layers. “Skill and professional experience are required for this type of floor. That is the right flooring technology, ”says Hermann Klarl. To install the sensors, the floor must be smooth and level and the functionality of the sensors must be constantly checked. Frank Eppelmann and Hermann Klarl got to know each other at FC Bayern Munich in 2015 when a “SpeedTrack”, a running track, was installed by GlobalSpeed. The chemistry between them was right and they’ve been laying SpeedCourt together all over the world ever since. “The trips are highlights for me. They’re exhausting, but always a great experience, ”says Hermann Klarl.

Own academy planned

Ten years after its foundation, GlobalSpeed not only offers SpeedCourt, but also other solutions such as SpeedTtrack, SpeedBouncer and SpeedDMS (see box) and, of course, Frank Eppelmann’s ten-member team is constantly developing the systems further. “We are working on some software extensions and a commercially oriented concept.” A separate academy is planned, where everyone can take advantage of GlobalSpeed’s sports technology and sports science offerings.

Photos: Thomas Rittelmann Text: Daniela Lorenz Published on July 6th, 2020 in the Deutsche Handwerks Zeitung

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