Jurgen Klopp has always possessed one of the finest minds in football.
His ‘gegenpressing’ system brought Borussia Dortmund two Bundesliga titles and an appearance in the Champions League final.
And now the Liverpool boss is proving himself to be ahead of the curve once again by introducing brain training to his players.
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Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was actually the first to bring Life Kinetik to the Premier League. It’s a training technique designed to improve the brain’s physical, cognitive and perceptual skills through a series of exercises.
The concern that players spending hours on their phones or with Beats headphones stuck over their ears is having an impact on their on-pitch communication is genuine.
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Koeman recently told a conference: “Communication on the pitch is so important, even if it is just to help your team-mates and say ‘time’ or ‘turn!’ ... For young players it is all about themselves and less about communication with the rest of the players,” per The Guardian.
Klopp used the training tool at Dortmund and is planning to instate it at Liverpool, where his team have shown glimpses of being able to crack the top four.
Life Kinetic was founded by Horst Lutz, who believes it gives football players a different and exciting challenge.
“The idea is to make the most of our brains, making new connections between our neurons by doing things we haven’t done before,” Lutz explained. “For footballers, the main focus is reaction speed and [making] fewer errors.”
Lack of interaction
Watching football players arrive at stadiums with huge, £300 headphones clamping their ears is a common sight nowadays.
And if they’re turning up with the headphones on, surely that means they travelled on the coach wearing them, too.
It certainly makes you wonder whether the modern world has an impact on players’ interactions with one another on the pitch. Communication is one of the most important aspects of building a successful football team but it they can’t communicate, they stand no chance.
It seems daft that communication techniques are even being introduced.
One exercise that Life Kinetic uses sees participants throwing a ball towards a partner and shouting which hand it must be caught in. The partner must step forward with the opposite leg to catch the ball.
Whether it will catch on in England remains to be seen. In Germany, one of the most advanced sporting countries in the world, Hamburg are one of a number of football teams to use it.
The national hockey and volley teams also use it, as do skiers. And it’s not just beneficial in sport, either.
The technique can be found in schools and old people’s homes.
If it works for Germany, the reigning football world champions, it’s quite surprising that it’s taken this long for Premier League clubs to start using it.