Borrusia Dortmund’s Secret Weapon

The work of a professional footballer is about 90% training and 10% matches. Training sessions are useful if they can give a footballer an opportunity to practice scenes that could happen in a match.

This season, Borussia Dortmund were the two-line defending champion of the Bundesliga and one of the teams in the UEFA Champions League. But the club has something others don’t…
Last fall, Dortmund introduced a striking device that can be compared to a martial arts arena. It’s a kind of science-fiction approach to improve an individual’s technical skills – The Footbonaut.

The Footbonaut, which is invented by Berlin-based company Christian Gütler, is controlled by a tablet computer and is about 15 square yards. A player enters and gets ready in a circle at the center of the artificial turf surface of the Footbonaut. Balls come his way from eight directions and the footballer must quickly place the ball into one of 72 panels, depending upon which one lights up. The player knows where the next ball will come from because of a buzzer noise.
The panels can light up in three different colours, according to your speed. Green light means that the reaction time is OK. Yellow says it has to be done faster. A red light warns you you were too late.

See the Footbonaut in action

“We are convinced that at the very least the Footbonaut will improve technique, but will also benefit spacial awareness and vision. We can closely monitor a player’s development with data from the machine. There is no reason why a player can’t translate the actions practiced in the Footbonaut onto the actual playing field.” – Steven Mislintat (Dortmund’s chief coach)
A footballer has to be able to perform a lot of actions: he needs to shoot or head a ball on target precisely and he has to have a good physical wellness and power. Also the reaction speed of a footballer is important, and he has to be able to anticipate on specific situations.

One of the devices that were used for header skills is the gallows with a ball attached to a rope. This device has been used in Holland since the 40’s of the previous century. It is used to practice footballer’s heading skills. Dortmund are the first club to get rid of medieval training equipment with the Footbonaut.

“It is as if you are surrounded by 10 colleagues who are there only to serve you balls. In a normal training, that level of intensity is not possible. The Footbonaut allows you to work on any weakness and ensures you that you play at pace but with precision.” – Mustafa Amini (Dortmund midfielder)



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