Between 2000 and 2011, in collaboration with the University of Louvain, Belgian soccer coach Michel Bruyninckx developed a training method, focused on brain functioning, called “CogiTraining” together with its key tool “SenseBall”.
Bruyninckx worked with a sample group of 200 young players (140 boys and 60 girls), none of whom were particularly exceptional technically or athletically. The only thing they had in common was that they were passionate about soccer. From this group, six of the boys ended up playing international football for Belgium, including Jan Vertongen, Moussa Dembélé, Dries Mertens and Steven Defour. Half of the current Belgian women’s team have come through the scheme.
The idea of CogiTraining and SenseBall is to maximise the players’ training by means of drills that improve the brain organisation, therefore enabling faster decision-making and increased accuracy in their movements. By practising daily for as little as 20 minutes, CogiTraining believes a young athlete can have 500,000 touches of the ball in a year, around ten times more that a player practising in traditional training sessions. In addition, they learn to use both feet.
The exercises also improve brain organisation, and youngsters on the scheme have seen an improvement in school results. Other uses for the technique have been improvements in bad posture, treatment of ADHD and the fight against cognitive disorders.
Dries Mertens spoke in 2010 about his upbringing with Senseball. “All the players were given a football on the end of a string with a handle, you had to hold the handle, juggle and kick the ball permanently with both feet. I am convinced I have mastered playing with both feet thanks to those exercises. Sometimes we did exercises to music so there was a beat urging the players to keep up the same rhythm. These training sessions are not to be underestimated! They are very difficult and demanding. And no one could lose the rhythm!”
So what is Senseball? Isn’t it simply a training ball on the end of a bit of rope?
SenseBall is said to be a complete football partner that allows improving your football skills and becoming two-footed. A neurostrategy. With SenseBall, you train your brain, not just your muscles with the belief that synchronised metronome training improves the motor timing and synchronisation abilities. Renowned clubs like AC Milan, the Belgian FA, RSC Anderlecht, FC Metz, and AS Monaco are using Senseball as part of the curriculum for their younger players.
With the Senseball, which is smaller than a standard size 5 soccer ball, you also get access to 50 online videos and a mobile app to allow your players to practice in their own time. The Senseball is available from your local Amazon here.