Training soccer players is tough business. The game is all about spatial awareness and lightning-fast decision making, so rote drills don’t really cut it. That’s why several teams, including a pair in Germany, are spending a staggering $3.5 million on the Footbonaut, a robot that keeps players on their toes.
It’s not a Johnny 5-like contraption that roves around a field, though. This is a very different type of robot. The Footbonaut is essentially an enclosed room that contains eight ball launchers, one in each direction, and 72 gated targets with lights above them. A player is put in the circle in the middle of the room and must field balls shot to them and get them into the indicated gate.
A coach with an iPad has total control over the intensity of the drills, managing the timing between balls, the number of balls on the field and the difficulty of the shots the player needs to make. German teams Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim both invested in one of the units last year, and they seem to be paying dividends. Hoffenheim recorded its highest finish in its league this year.
It’s not surprising that Hoffenheim is going high-tech – the team is financially supported by billionaire software entrepreneur Dietmar Hopp, who played for them as a youth.
Here’s a video of the Footbonaut in action.
Read more about how the teams are using the robot at KITV.Get your balls in the game! Donate to the Sean Kimerling Foundation to win the battle against testicular cancer.