A few weeks back, we were introduced to a new training tool intended to improve your game by developing specific foot skills, reacting quicker and improving rhythm. If the SenseBall system looks similar, it might be related to those training systems that are wrapped around a players waist or foot. But, this one is very, very different to those thanks to a handle that allows you to dictate the tempo and movement of the ball.
In order to get some thorough feedback on the SenseBall, I recruited my kids to try it out as well as myself. So, you get an adult and kid take on how it works. Realistically, the key to any training system is how long it keeps players mentally engaged, and the one thing I will tell you before running through the details is that it is still being used in our house today!
What is SenseBall?
SenseBall is the training football (soccer ball) on a string developed by CogiTraining, the revolutionary football training method implemented in football clubs and Federations around the world such as the Belgian FA, AC Milan, RSC Anderlecht, KRC Genk, Royal Antwerp FC, FC Metz and FC Nantes.
Recommended by professional football players, SenseBall is especially aimed at young players between 6 and 20 years of age. Practicing with SenseBall improves their football skills and makes them two-footed. SenseBall also improves the performance of all sportspeople for whom high-speed and precise leg movements are essential (basketball, tennis, skiing, handball…).
The principle of SenseBall is based on the concept of bilateral activity. Thanks to its specific design, online exercise videos and didactical program, a player practicing with SenseBall will make an average of 500,000 touches of the ball in a season.
How Does It Work?
It is pretty simple really. You get a bag that contains the full system. You get a ball with a string attached, and on the side is a handle. You are able to dictate the length of the string via the handle, where you can pull it through and wrap around the handle to make it shorter, or allow it to release out and make the string longer. The length you want depends on the height of the player and the drills you are running. Either way, making a change is very simple and only takes a few seconds to do.
Then, all you need to do is hold the handle and kick the ball! It takes a few kicks to actually get familiar with the flight and movement of the ball as it pulls on the string. If you watch some of the demo videos, the players make it look like the system is super easy to use, you just kick the ball and it loops around. But that isn’t the case and this is where the training aspect comes into play. You need to work in order to get the ball moving and in a pattern.
How Often Should You Use it?
The following information comes from SenseBall:
The daily practice of SenseBall (20 minutes per day) makes it possible for a young athlete to touch the ball approximately 500.000 times a year (whereas a professional who trains in the “traditional” way will only touch it about 50.000 times!). Most importantly, they play in a perfectly bilateral way (50% right foot; 50% left foot) which forms a complete two-footed player. Moreover, after a year of practising CogiTraining with SenseBall, these young athletes improved their school results by 10% on average, which can be explained by the improved brain organization generated by this method.
How Long Will You Use it?
Like most training products, it is difficult to commit to using as frequently as recommended and a lot of products end up sitting in the garage. We are two weeks in and I’ve found that the kids still like to use it a lot. The nice thing about the string is that they can use it inside where there is space (if you kids break anything inside, please don’t blame me!) So, I’ve left them sitting around the house and the just grab them and use them. Sometimes that will be inside and other times outside. They might use it for 30 seconds, other times I’ll find them using it for 10 minutes. It really varies, but I really love the option of having something around they can just play with. Half the battle is keeping players engaged and wanting to practice, so an extra few touches here and there is a huge plus.
Where it would be very useful is in a team environment, where you can get a group of players using it together. If that is something you are looking to do, I’d recommend contacting the SenseBall team for more information on how to make that happen.
So, the all important feedback! What did my kids have to say about it? Both my 6 and 8 year old girls really liked using it, primarily because it is so easy to pick up and just use. Having the ball come back is also a huge bonus, as they don’t have to chase as much. It took both of them some time to get the rhythm down, and although it doesn’t look anywhere near coordinated, it has been excellent to watch them use both feet to kick the ball. Plus, it really has played a role in their timing as they have to work on visually tracking the ball as it comes to them. As long as they keep using it, I’ll consider it a value for money training product.
With your purchase, you get the Senseball system, a mobile app, 50 training drills and it also includes two video conferences of one hour each on SenseBall and CogiTraining. Price wise, it drops in at $49.99 (plus shipping), which is actually a really good price point for a training system like this!