For some time now, the players of the Argentine national soccer team have complained about the old practices carried out by the various coaches in the national team. However, after the departure of Edgardo Bauza, it seems that the Board heard them and hired a strategist with advanced coaching methods: Jorge Sampaoli.
Beyond his intense training, where he seeks perfection, the Casilda native has a strange secret weapon to try to translate his ideas into the teams he coaches.
This is Sandball, a software that accurately reproduces the technical and tactical characteristics of a soccer team, although not by default as in the famous FIFA or PES video games.
As one of the shortcomings when it comes to being a coach of a National team is the few moments to practice all together on the field , he uses this tool to conduct virtual training, so his team can learn from the distance and “gain time” on the field.
“We have an interactive program like Playstation. Every player has a joystick and moves as he should move on the field,” Sampaoli said a few years ago on Radio America. “We can see what they do and understand their mistakes,” said the coach.
It is a soccer game, such as FIFA or PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) that allows online positioning of each player. Simulate the movements that are intended to be tested during training or matches and seek in an interactive way that the player himself understands the work that should be carried out.
“The most valuable thing about this tool is that it breaks with a traditional method of technical talk where the player is in a passive role, only listening or watching videos, so instead he has more participation and interaction,” explained Sebastián Beccacece, former field assistant of Sampaoli and now technical director of Defensa and Justicia.
Sandball is also a good tool for studying opponents. For example, if the technical staff of Sampaoli considers that they will face a slow right back and that practically does not happen to the attack, they ask the designers these qualities. Thus, the players interact in function of this characteristic and manage to interpret the intention of the trainer with easily.
One of the main architects of this revolutionary methodology was Matías Manna (he joined the team of the Argentine coach when he working in Chile). During his time as assistant of Facundo Sava in Union, Manna noticed how dispersed the players were during the technical talks and how with the use of the video games they gained their attention.
It all began in 2010, in the Master Class in Digital Interactive Communication at the National University of Rosario. There, the Uruguayan Gonzalo Frasca (game designer and researcher) presented a lecture that was based on “the possible uses in training and education in general of what are called immersive platforms, such as flight simulators, that try to make the student Learn by living the 3D experience. ” Matías Manna participated in that master class and that’s where the idea was born.
Mego Limitada invested five months of work and USD 550,000 in developing the software that Sampaoli has now available to work with since the beginning of 2015.