Training Impacts of the Footbonaut: Science Meets Football Tech

Football players training in the Skills lab

The rapid pace of technological advancements has infiltrated the realm of sports, and with it comes the anticipation of the next big thing. Years ago, the Footbonaut emerged as a groundbreaking tool designed to sharpen football skills. Let’s dive deep into its scientific results and introduce its successor, the Skills.lab.

Emergence of the Footbonaut:

The Footbonaut, a brainchild of the German inventor Christian Güttler, offers an array of 64 distinct passing options. This astounding structure, costing a staggering €3.5 million, has found its home in top football clubs like Hoffenheim and Dortmund. Moreover, beyond Germany, the Aspire Academy in Qatar boasts of this marvel. Its impressive design undoubtedly captures the eye, but the question remains: what about its training effects?

The Footbonaut’s Claim to Fame:

Linking back to the 2014 World Cup final, Mario Götze’s match-winning goal for PSV is often attributed to extensive training within the Footbonaut (Economist, 2015).

Scientific Dive into the Footbonaut:

Adam Beavan, a German researcher, along with his team, embarked on an exploration to discern the effects of the Footbonaut. Out of numerous testing parameters, they primarily focused on technical control, passing, and shooting in an unpredictable 360-degree environment. The results showed the Footbonaut displaying a commendable test-retest reliability across all age brackets. It differentiated between younger (U12-U14) and older (U15-U23) players (Beavan et al., 2019a). Yet, chief investigator Beavan pointed out that the nuances influencing these differences remain ambiguous. The research thus highlighted the need for a more tangible link between on-field games, training, and Footbonaut.

Critical Analysis of Findings:

Given the Footbonaut’s hefty price tag, expectations soared for innovative insights. However, Beavan’s study proved somewhat disheartening. Players undeniably improved in technical skills, but the cognitive aspect remains murky. My personal experience resonates with the challenges of investigating this domain. Whether the invested millions have truly yielded optimal returns remains debatable.

Beyond Footbonaut – The 360s and Skills.lab:

The Footbonaut isn’t alone in this venture. Benfica introduced the 360s, an upgraded version of the Footbonaut. Here, players target moving items on an expansive interactive wall. Further evolution birthed the Skills.lab, a revolutionary training field mimicking half a football pitch. Video Link.

It provides an immersive training environment, offering an intricate analysis of movements, ball control, and shooting accuracy. Bayern Munich boasts of a Skills.lab, with their Sports Director, Hasan Salihamidzic, emphasizing its role in enhancing the prowess of budding talents.

Concluding Thoughts:

While initial results from the Footbonaut might not completely astound, it’s fascinating to explore the impact of such costly technologies on football. With the emergence of 360s and Skills.lab, anticipation builds for their respective results, though public availability might take some time.


Adam Beavan, Job Fransen, Jan Spielmann, Jan Mayer, Sabrina Skorski & Tim Meyer(2019)The Footbonaut as a new football-specific skills test: reproducibility and age-related differences in highly trained youth players,Science and Medicine in Football,3:3,177-182,DOI: 10.1080/24733938.2018.1548772

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