Enhancing Soccer Players’ Cognitive Abilities with SmartGoals

Players training with SmartGoals at Longa'30

Currently, at Longa’30, an innovative approach to training first-team players is being adopted by Sportbrein. Using SmartGoals, they are honing individual player skills. Let’s dive deeper into this progressive training method.

Read more: Enhancing Soccer Players’ Cognitive Abilities with SmartGoals

Individualized Training for Improved Cognitive Strength:

Back in late 2017, Longa’30, leading in Sunday 1E, started offering tailored training sessions for its premier team. In collaboration with head coach Erik Zandstra, the decision was made to individually train various players. Why? The overarching goal was to bolster their cognitive prowess. But what does this entail for the players?

Through the use of SmartGoals – miniature goals with LED lights – players’ brains are specifically trained to make split-second decisions crucial during matches. Consider, for instance, the Motor Inhibition, a part of our Executive System. This brain function is responsible for executing tasks. Soccer, inherently dynamic, demands players to constantly adapt to ever-changing scenarios, necessitating quick decision-making. Yet, sometimes these decisions need to be halted due to swift changes, a process known as Inhibition.

Structured Training Regimen:

A program, grounded in scientific knowledge and existing cognitive training methods, has been designed. It emphasizes adaptability. Essentially, each player consistently pushes their limits. If a task is performed well, the difficulty is ramped up. Conversely, if a player struggles, the level is adjusted downwards. Monitoring outcomes is equally essential, and it’s been agreed to train each line continuously for six weeks.

A Glimpse into an Exercise:

Here’s an example of a training exercise employed by Sportbrein:

Players training setup with SmartGoals at Longa'30

Players position themselves before six SmartGoals with a soccer ball. Their focus is on the central orange cone amidst the SmartGoals. The SmartGoals lights then alternate every three seconds. Players must remember the sequence of the orange light, then verbally recall it in reverse order. Successfully completing an exercise prompts an increase in difficulty. If they falter, the level decreases. The second adaptive component adjusts the number of tries based on how many items (lights/numbers) a player can recall. The exercise merges motoric tasks with cognitive tasks, known as a Dual Task. The result? Players improve their ball sense simultaneously with cognitive tasks.

The Expected Outcome:

The objective is to slow down the game during intense moments. This allows players to make better, calculated decisions. It enhances their selective focus and divided attention. The goals are set nine meters apart, drawing inspiration from Cruijff’s vision. This exercise takes cues from cognitive trainers like Cogmed and Neurotracker, continuously monitoring results to measure progress.

training with SmartGoals at Longa'30


The adoption of such advanced training methods signifies Longa’30’s commitment to not just physical but also cognitive growth of their players. As the game evolves, so must training techniques, ensuring players are equipped to face every challenge on the field.”

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