What the media say about BrainsFirst

From 'Brain-games better than IQ-test' to 'The future of HR is here' and 'The most innovative sports tool of the year'. Read what others say about our work.

Werder Bremen includes cognitive data in talent evaluation

Brain-based talent approach becomes a standard in Bundesliga

The German club competing in Bundesliga and the Amsterdam-based Sports tech company BrainsFirst started their collaboration this month with a focus on the identification and selection of the most promising football talents. The common goal is to make the process of talent identification & evaluation more fact-based, data-driven and scalable. Werder Bremen believes cognition adds crucial performance-predictive information to the talent evaluation processes. Better player selection leads to more home-grown players in the first team and a more positive transfer balance for the German club.

BrainsFirst offers its validated assessment games platform, by combining gamification and cutting-edge neuroscience technology. Originated at the sidelines of Real Madrid & FC Barcelona and researched amongst 1200+ European pro players, BrainsFirst succeeded in decoding “game intelligence”. The company enables Werder Bremen to assess the football brain potential of a player. This kind of data is considered as a crucial piece of the overall talent puzzle. According to previous experiences in Premier League, Bundesliga, Eredivisie, Primera Division, Ekstraklasa, Liga MX, and Jupiler Pro League, applying BrainsFirst as an early-funnel player recruitment step leads to more justified admissions & rejections and consequently a higher efficiency and returns in the overall process.

Co-innovation leads to success
Tobias Süveges, Sportleiter U10 – U14, Werder Bremen, explains: 

Through the success in talent development of clubs such as AZ Alkmaar, PSV Eindhoven, etc., we became aware of BrainsFirst and subsequently studied the approach intensively. We saw great potential for the identification of the region’s greatest talents, but above all for the individual development of our players, so we are very much looking forward to our future cooperation.” 

BrainsFirst has had its initial experiences already since 2014 with partners like PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord Rotterdam, AZ Alkmaar and the Dutch FA. Meanwhile its client base has grown exponentially in the Top-10 European leagues. Now they strengthen their position in Bundesliga. “Werder Bremen decided to choose this approach of talent identification & evaluation with a long term perspective. They prove to have a clear vision and want to use the tools of today to succeed in the future. We are very excited to work with this legendary club,” says Eric Castien, BrainsFirst’s founder.

Crucial part of the talent puzzle
When (youth) players play the game, data is collected and a unique representative brain profile is made. “Everyone is good and less good at something,” says Castien. “The games give you more insight into that.”

The method measures players on potential rather than what they already can do. To cope with the complexity of modern top football, it is not only necessary to be good technically, physically and motorically. Certain brain functions must also be of a high level otherwise for example, ‘in-match information’ is processed too slowly to participate at top level.

Castien: “In talent recognition, the current performance of a young player is often taken as the main indicator, while this has a strong bias, such as physically. Players with a biological advantage at age fifteen might be better than their teammates at that moment. They are often seen as the high-potentials of their generation, but some years later, their peers usually physically catch them up. By adding a cognitive component to talent recognition, as a club you gain a better insight into whether someone is also ahead in that area. This allows you to see the bigger talent picture.”

About BrainsFirst:
BrainsFirst BV was founded in 2012 to define the context specific required cognitive functions of elite football players. Since 2014, the data collection, analysis & interpretation leads to a considerably higher number of justified admissions & rejections in talent academies. Dutch clubs like PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord Rotterdam and national association KNVB are long-term partners. Since 2020 clubs in Germany, Belgium, Mexico, England and Spain have implemented the software in their talent recruitment process.

12 May, 2023

BrainsFirst is the brain behind the youth academies of clubs like AZ, PSV, and Feyenoord.

Since that youth academy, football players at AZ are not only tested for fitness and strength. The players’ brains are also monitored. Starting from Under 12, players have to play simple computer games to examine their cognitive skills. The club collaborates with the company BrainsFirst, just like PSV and Feyenoord, among others, for this purpose.

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11 May, 2023

AZ Alkmaar use BrainsFirst test to identify best young talent and it has helped them win UEFA Youth League

AZ Alkmaar have one of Europe’s most innovative and successful academies. Following their UEFA Youth League triumph, Adam Bate speaks to Eric Castien of BrainsFirst to find out more about the role that neuroscience is playing in the club’s recruitment.

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5 May, 2023

Computer joins the ballgame: soccer increasingly approached scientifically through the use of data.

The use of data has taken off in football clubs like Ajax and AZ, but what does that mean in practice? What kind of data are we talking about? And how and where are measurement results used?

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6 Apr, 2023

Young_Coders: We look for candidates by asking “what are you an 8 or 9 in?”

Dat in beeld brengen van de vaardigheden van kandidaten doet Young_Coders met de NeurOlympics-games van BrainsFirst; 4 bias free spellen, die in een paar minuten allerlei verschillende breinfuncties meten. Een uitkomst, aldus Farah, ook omdat de doelgroep dit over het algemeen een heel leuke manier van selecteren vindt. ‘Het is een prettige manier om kerncompetenties in kaart te brengen. De meeste guys en girls die dit doen houden echt van gamen. Deze testen zijn gewoon heel leuk voor ze, omdat ze dit van nature doen. Maar ook als ze niet gamen werkt is de candidate experience trouwens goed.’

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22 Mar, 2023

Record amount of support personel found and hired with gamification

With BrainsFirst, we’ve been able to reduce the obstacles to reach the function. No more need for a motivation letter or CV. This means we’ve found that talent that would never have been reached in the classic scenario.

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20 Mar, 2023

What Makes An Elite Soccer Player’s Brain Different From The Rest Of Us

Even if you have the physique, the ball control skills and the strength and speed of a professional soccer player, if your brain isn’t also on that level, you won’t make it as a pro.

AZ know this. Their scouting network tests potential youth players for their cognitive ability through tests run by Dutch company BrainsFirst. This allows them to select “technically, tactically, physically and mentally outstanding talents,” who also have the cognitive ability to play elite soccer.

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15 Mar, 2023

AZ ‘kids’ run rings around Real Madrid: ‘We do things differently from Ajax’

AZ is continuously trying to learn from other organisations. “And not only from Real Madrid, but also from Go Ahead Eagles, for example. We look at other sports and successful companies as well.”

“For example, we work with Brainsfirst. Before kids come in, we want to see what the brain looks like. This company also does the assessments before air traffic controllers are hired,” Paul Brandenburg, head of the academy, says.

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14 Feb, 2023

About the ‘Zero talent waste’ mission with which BrainsFirst wants to structurally unclog the labor market

‘Why do we keep cramming squares into round holes in the labor market?’ Eric Castien wonders. ‘Too much talent is being lost as a result.’ But how can things be better, according to the founder of BrainsFirst?

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2 Nov, 2022

How to understand your brain. With Eric Castien.

For 10 years, Eric Castien has been focusing on the minds of our society. According to Eric, when it comes to what people can achieve, not enough consideration is given to brain functions, such as pattern recognition, information processing speed, and attention span.

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