“Football is a game you play with your brain.” Johan Cruyff was probably one of the most intelligent players in soccer history.
Learning requires high levels of concentration. Do we train cognitive quickness in soccer? Is quick passing solely the result of greater muscle reactivity? No. It is the brain that makes its own interpretation of the information it receives from the senses.
CogiTraining is a soccer training method developed by Michel Bruyninckx. This method is the result of over 15 years of research and implementation within the framework of a sports research study in association with the University of Leuven in Belgium.
Between 2000 and 2011, some 200 players (140 boys and 60 girls) aged 12 to 18 were trained in Leuven (Belgium) using the CogiTraining method, including the practice of SenseBall.
At the start, these children were not exceptional, either technically or athletically speaking. They were simply young players from the area who were passionate about soccer and played soccer in small local clubs at weekends.
Still, 6 of these 140 boys have ended playing for the male Belgian national team (among them, Dries Mertens and Steven Defour played in the 2014 World Cup in brazil). And 50% of the female players that are core members of the women’s Belgian national soccer team have come from this sports study training.
This is a remarkable statistic if you take into account that the Belgian Soccer Federation has 400,000 players registered (375,000 male and 25,000 female).
In other words, the CogiTraining method and SenseBall have proved their capacity to train top level players on the basis of a limited number of initially “not naturally gifted” players.
The acquisition of these skills is, among others, the result of the fact that SenseBall, the training soccer ball on a string developed by CogiTraining, is based on the concept of bilateral activity.
During a SenseBall training session, a player uses (plus or minus 2%) his left foot as many times as his right and moves left/right and backwards/forwards through space in a balanced way.
Thanks to its specific design and related exercises, a player who practises with SenseBall makes an average of 500,000 touches of the ball in a season, whereas it is calculated that a professional soccerer, in all of the matches and training sessions in which he participates, makes a maximum of 50,000 touches of the ball per season.
A TRAINING METHOD RECOGNIZED BY PROFESSIONALS
In Belgium, the Belgian FA has decided to include CogiTraining and SenseBall in the compelling training program for coaches. And many professional teams (RSC Anderlecht, KRC Genk, Zulte Waregem, RCSC Charleroi…) have included the pratice of SenseBall in its youth teams training sessions.
Out of Belgium, more and more teams are following the same path (Sporting Kansas City, FC Nantes, FC Metz, Toulouse FC, Willem II, FC Lugano, APOEL Nicosia…).
It thus seems highly likely that CogiTraining and SenseBall will continue to grow in popularity over the coming years.