The Virtual revolution

The Virtual revolution

Published on: 26/08/2020

The Virtual revolution

Virtual football training is booming and is here to stay. Meet the early adopters and find out why they are pioneering the revolution of talent development.

– I’m very excited about the progress you’ve made with your left foot, says NF Academy coach David Calado on the Zoom call.

On the receiving end of the conference call is the promising 14-year-old footballer Axel Elmberger in Sweden. Elmberger enrolled at NF Virtual Academy four months ago, and every Friday afternoon he has a personal call with David.

The technical topic of the week is ball reception/first touch, and right now, they are discussing the drills David assigned to Axel earlier this week. Since then, Axel has practised rigorously throughout the week and recorded his execution of every single exercise, which David has watched and analyzed.

– You’ve done well this week, but there is still room for improvement. I have more advanced drills or you to try, David says and shows Axel a video of the first drill of the upcoming session.

Axel nods as David walks him through the key points.

– I want you to do this drill in four different ways, David says. – I want you to do a left and right side reception, with the inside and the outside of the foot.

– Shall I scan my surroundings while I am doing that? Axel asks.

– Yes exactly, I want you to look to the left and the right. It is essential that you are aware of what’s going on at any given moment and that you can react quickly in a match situation.

Do you want to try NF Virtual Academy for free? Click here.

NF Virtual Academy training program
CLOSE CONTACT: Axel sends David videos of his execution of the drills throughout the week and receives direct feedback.

Personal coaching

– The best thing about NF Virtual Academy is that the feedback is 100% personal, says Axel Elmberger after the call is over.

– I enjoy playing with my team, but the coach does not have time to give us one-on-one coaching regularly. With NF Virtual Academy, however, I get tailor-made drills and precise advice, Axel says.

Axels coach, David Calado, is also enjoying the format.

– It is inspiring for me as a coach. I get to work with talented players such as Axel on an individual level, and I can target his strengths and weaknesses in a way that would have been hard if I were to coach him in a bigger group of players.

Throughout the summer Calado has also analyzed videos of Elmbergers match performances.

– I try to give him feedback as often as possible, and he seems to grow on it. He was elected player of the camp at an NF International event recently, and he advanced to the NF Qualification camp. I can see him go all the way to a trial with Sporting.

You can also qualify for a trial with Sporting. Read about it here.

NF Academy Player Axel Elmberger
GOOD STUDENT: Axel Elmberger has excelled on the pitch lately and was recently awarded “Player of the camp” on an NF International event in Sweden.

A happy marriage

NF Virtual Academy is a happy marriage between two booming trends: online training courses and one-to-one coaching. One-to-one coaching has exploded with the pandemic.

“It is sweeping through football at all levels of the game — from grassroots to the Premier League”, reported The Athletic.

It is easy to understand why this type of coaching has gained traction. Even professional coaches sometimes fall short on seeing the individual players in a group of twenty players – the coach’s primary duty is, after all, to coach the team. It is, however, crucial to meet the individual player’s needs, to best support his or her personal development. That’s where NF Virtual Academy comes in.

– The idea is to help players reach a higher level by giving them regular, individual guidance, and follow-up. This way, we can help them in the specific aspects of their game they find difficult, and support them to overcome these challenges and develop faster, says the program director and UEFA pro coach, João Plantier.

Below some exercises recorded by Carl during the Axel Elmberger training sessions.

Virtual football reality

Video conference coaching has followed the same trajectory as all other forms of virtual activity over the last few months – it has skyrocketed!

This massive growth is undeniably associated with COVID, but that’s not all that is to it. Video conference coaching gives all players access to top-class remote learning experiences from some of the best talent developers in the world. That is great for several reasons, but the bottom line is this: Your geographical location is not a barrier for growth and development as you can get top class coaching regardless of where you live.

– We live outside Stockholm, and we feel fortunate to be able to work with a Portuguese coach such as David, says Axel’s father, Carl Elmberger.

Carl is confident that they will keep on using NF Virtual Academy after COVID.

– This is an excellent complimentary service if you want to develop as a young footballer, he said.

Good routine and fun for the family

Back in the virtual training session, Calado gives his student some closing remarks:

– You have sessions lined up from Saturday to Monday and from Wednesday to Friday. Don’t miss out on the physical topics. Did you understand how I want you to do the one-legged squats?

– Yes, I did, Axel says.

– Look at the video another time, if you are in doubt. I will also give you feedback through messenger, Calado adds.

They chat a little bit back and forth, and in a moment of gratitude Axel says:

– This is an excellent routine for me. I feel like I am way more committed to my talent development than I would have been otherwise.

Axel’s father, who has been in the background during the conference call, joins in.

– The funny part is that I have improved my football skills as well, Carl Elmberger says with a smirk.

Carl tells David that he is often assisting his son during the drills and that it has become a fun family activity.

– Axel has improved a lot. Personally, I have gone from being an awful footballer to, well, slightly less awful. I am grateful for that.

Sign up for the service that Carl and Axel are so excited about here.


Date Program Country Place Age Group
15 - 25 Jul 2024 NF High Performance Portugal Rio Maior 2009-2005
19 - 21 Jul 2024 NF International Trials Norway Romerike 2008-2015
28 -30 Jul 2024 NF International Trials Sweden Hudiksvall 2008-2015
29 - 31 Jul 2024 NF International Trials Denmark Silkeborg 2008-2015
01 - 03 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Denmark Copenhagen 2008-2015
01 - 03 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Sweden Stockholm 2008-2015
02 - 04 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Finnmark 2008-2015
05 - 07 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Troms 2008-2015
05 - 07 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Denmark Fyn 2008-2015
05 - 07 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Drammen 2008-2015
05 - 07 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Sweden Jönköping 2008-2015
09 - 11 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Bergen 2008-2015
09 - 11 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Nordland 2008-2015
12 - 14 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Kristiansand 2008-2015
12 - 14 Aug 2024 NF International Trials Norway Namsos 2008-2015

Check the complete Event Calendar here.

Start typing and press Enter to search