TacTowers has been tested by elite handball players

TacTowers has been tested by elite handball players

The competition was strong when the handball players from Bjerringbro-Silkeborg tested the preliminary prototype of the training tool TacTowers on March 23 2010.

The new elected winners of the group play in the men's league provided important input when they tested the iSports training tool TacTowers.The project is part of the Interactive Spaces research center and is based on the handball sport. The focus is to train split vision, speed as well as the ability to think tactically in stressful situations, and in the test of TacTowers, the elite players were indeed challenged in several ways.

Apr 13th, 2010, 14:40

The wise winner
The test included two games which in their own way worked with overview, strategy and speed. And it quickly became clear that one could not win on speed alone. The winning players soon gave their own intelligence the credit for the victory.

TacTowers consists of four pillars with a series of pressure sensitive balls that the players must hit to get points. The columns are in contact with a computer where the training games are loaded. During the test in "Bjerringbro hallen" the pillars were placed in a row with one player on each side. They fought against each other by seeing who could first turn on the lights in the pressure-sensitive balls.

- I think the training tool has potential, and it is a more fun way to train than some of the things we are doing now, says Simon Kristiansen, who is selected for the national team.

There is potential
The work with TacTowers stems from an idea to involve IT in sports in the best way and find completely new equipment instead of improving the present. Team Denmark has therefore also shown interest in the project and sport physiologist Thue Kvorning is well aware of the potential in this prototype.

- In general, I believe in having equipment train and measure the players' tactical abilities and speed under competition-like conditions. However, the reason why we have not yet seen training equipment that works in this way in practice is that it is very difficult to develop, explains Thue Kvorning who has served as the liaison between the researchers from Interactive Spaces and players and coaches from BSV.

The handball players proposed changes to the prototype. Their main complaint was that the balls did not always show that they were hit. Thus, the pressure sensitive areas of the balls must be larger.

- But TacTowers has potential. It can provide an extra element of competition, especially if it resembles situations we know from a handball match, says Bjerringbro-Silkeborg's Swedish goalkeeper Anders Persson.

The development continues
The work continues at Interactive Spaces. Interaction designer, Martin Ludvigsen, was responsible for the test in "Bjerringbro hallen" and he now has a wide range of invaluable input for further development:

- The players' inputs are very useful and can help to simplify the model to fit even better at handball training. It is difficult to develop games that challenge the players and also works well as a game - i.e. that they are motivating and balanced.

His plan is to play test TacTowers once again in the nearest future to test the next step in the development process. Team Denmark watches this process with great interest, as sport physiologist Thue Kvorning is looking for tools that make testing and training more broadly oriented:

- Our current tests are very narrow and focused on physics. So I hope that new technology may create tools which train tactics and overview, he says.

TacTowers is an offshoot of the iSport project. But researchers from Interactive Spaces, Aarhus School of Architecture, Computer Science and ACTIVEInstitute can use the project's findings in their future work. And the very concrete inputs from elite athletes to improvements can be taken further in the prototype work of the next version.

Posted in iSport by Marianne Dammand Iversen

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