Football Skills through Brain Training: Pelota’s Masterclass

Youth football players at Pelota's Masterclass in Doetinchem, 2018.

In early 2018, Sportbrein had the privilege to partake in Pelota’s Masterclass, held in the prestigious Topsporthal in Doetinchem. With the integration of SMARTGOALS, there was a distinctive focus on honing skills and coordinating them with cognitive functions. Dive deeper to uncover the magic that unfolded during this event.

Read more: Football Skills through Brain Training: Pelota’s Masterclass

The Vision Behind Pelota:

Established by brothers Milenko and Stojan Visser, Pelota isn’t just a football school. It’s a vision. It’s a transformative bridge, moving the culture, freedom, and skills inherent in street football onto the formal field. In a nurturing environment, players are motivated to explore and imbue their unique flair to skills and maneuvers. The street’s winning spirit, showcasing one’s skills with bravery, the essence of respect, and holistic personal growth are at Pelota’s core. Becoming a part of the Pelota family is more than just about the sport – it’s about unlocking creativity and discovering innate talents.

Weekly Training Regimes:

Each week, group sessions and individual trainings are facilitated, bringing out the best in the young talents. The founders, with their immense expertise, demonstrate the moves so effortlessly that young eyes often watch in amazement. This impeccable demonstration by Pelota trainers activates the mirror neurons in the young talents. It’s truly fascinating how our brain can mimic by just watching. This phenomenon is not just limited to movements but extends to absorbing attitudes and personalities. As Milenko insightfully points out, “Kids not only learn from our top-tier trainers but also by observing their peers.”

Themes of the Masterclass:

Central to the Masterclass were two pivotal themes: transitioning “from the street to the field” and underscoring “the significance of hard work”. Each day was a new journey, ensuring players could aptly apply their learned skills in varied football scenarios. Mornings were dedicated to exercises emphasizing ball control, followed by an enlightening viewing session of top footballer clips post a nutritious lunch. Professor Jelle Jolles emphasizes how sparking curiosity is the bedrock for talent development, urging trainers and coaches to cultivate a broadened perspective.

SMARTGOALS with Sportbrein:

Sportbrein’s integration of SMARTGOALS emphasized brain stimulation exercises. Through focused training, various cognitive functions, notably motor inhibition, were refined. By applying learned football actions to SMARTGOALS, players grasped the essence of quick orientation – making swift decisions, adjusting moves, and harnessing creativity. This training module, termed ‘dual task’, embodies both a motor and cognitive task executed simultaneously. Rinus Michels encapsulated this concept in his doctrine, highlighting the growth journey of young talents through trial and error.

Feedback from Young Talents:

Youth talents, many from prestigious clubs like De Graafschap, Vitesse, NEC, and Ajax, found the two-day session immensely beneficial. In an interview with the Gelderse Post, 10-year-old Nick shared his enthusiasm, stating, “The variety in exercises truly sharpens one’s technique. I learned a fantastic move from Stojan, combining a scissors move followed by an akka.” The impeccable demonstration is paramount to activate mirror neurons. Combined with Smartgoals, the brain’s dual-task development is further refined. Milenko Visser, the co-founder, envisions more such enriching Masterclasses in the future, not only in Doetinchem but extending beyond Gelderland.


Two days, innumerable learnings, and an unforgettable experience – that’s what Pelota’s Masterclass was all about.

For more on Pelota, visit: Pelota Academy

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