The Pintus Method: The Secret Behind Real Madrid's Success

The Italian Antonio Pintus returned to Real Madrid to apply his training method and create new champions. We'll analyze his science-based techniques here.
The Pintus Method: The Secret Behind Real Madrid's Success
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

“Epic” is part of soccer when impossible results come along…and even more so when they do so often. Real Madrid is having one of those historic seasons, and it could be that Antonio Pintus is the one responsible.

Antonio Pintus is the current coach of the Spanish team and had been before. Today, at the age of 59, the idea has taken hold that there’s a Pintus method that’s capable of improving Real Madrid’s performance, preventing injuries, and making these elite players twice as resilient as other players.

The track record backs him up. However, what makes it so special, and is there really a Pintus method? The Italian coach boasts some university professions that allow him to apply science to his physical development plans. We’ll take a look at them in this article.

The Pintus method: The iron sergeant

In Spain, Antonio Pintus has earned the nickname of the iron sergeant. He’s said to be stern with his players when it comes to training. In Italy, he’s called the whip, another nickname in the same vein.

However, the curious thing is that several people say that the coach never makes excessive demands. Despite the nicknames, his discipline is calculated to the millimeter so that there’s no overtraining and injuries are prevented.

In fact, it’s assumed that Real Madrid has resorted to Pintus in the second half of 2021 because of a 2020/2021 season (plus the problem of confinement) with too many casualties. The Spaniards’ previous physical trainer, of French origin, could not find the key to reducing injuries when returning to the field after the pandemic.

The Pintus method is that of an iron sergeant, but one who does so conscientiously. His teams get injured very little and has  superlative endurance, allowing them to stay active until the end of the 90 minutes on the pitch and keep up the pace when there are extensions.

In his previous period in charge of Real Madrid’s physical preparation, Pintus was the man who had achieved the three Champions Leagues in a row under Zidane’s management, whom he knew well from coaching him when the Frenchman was a player at Juventus in the 1990s.

Luca Modrid fue entrenado por Pintus.
Modric has said that Pintus’ training sessions were demanding and demanded full attention from the players.

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Pintus the scientist

Antonio Pintus works for Real Madrid now, but he also studies and publishes scientific research on sports medicine. Where traditional coaching, advances in sports science, and technology intersect, the Italian finds ways to innovate.

His obsession with reducing injuries, not overloading players, and making them more resilient can be found in the publications he does together with other colleagues. In 2016, for example, the scientific study he published reveals that he analyzed the administered workload and physiological response of young soccer players to understand how to balance training and minimize the risk of injury.

With 5 other professionals, in 2008, he had addressed the issue of unregulated games in soccer training. This form of exercise, known in English as sided-games, consists of letting the athletes pass the ball to each other in a fun and relaxed way, without the intervention of clear rules.

Sided-games have been seen as moments for fun rather than for training. The player participates if he or she wants to, without obligation, and serves as a recreation between the more concise proposals of the physical trainers.

For the Pintus method, non-regulated games contribute to cardiovascular work. In his research, he notes that the heart rate is modified as much as it is with high-intensity work. Therefore, he proposes that soccer players should not deprive themselves of them and that they should be encouraged to participate, even if they think it’s better to rest.

The results of the Pintus method at Real Madrid

Prevent injuries and have endurance. That seems to sum up the Pintus method for Real Madrid, with Zidane before and now with Ancelotti.

Despite his age, the Italian coach continues to improve, to such an extent that he’s also graduated as a physiotherapist in Spain. With his new knowledge, he’s able to manage the player’s workload better to prevent overexertion while restoring functionality to recovering players. The combination of experience and technical know-how makes the difference.

“Even today, the process of returning injured athletes to sport is often based on subjective knowledge and not on the scientific evidence that comes to us from international literature.” -Rosario D’Onofrio, co-author with Pintus of scientific papers

The issue of endurance is not a minor one, either. After all, Real Madrid’s comebacks this year seem to be straight out of a story written by the Pintus method.

However, this is not new. In the Italian coach’s previous cycle with the Spaniards, the team scored the most goals after 75 minutes in all of Europe. In other words, they were the athletes with the greatest capacity to sustain activity in the last 15 minutes of a match.

Lesiones en el fútbol.
Injuries at the highest level complicate any club. The concern to minimize them is becoming more and more well-known.

Scientist, soccer lover, abd iron sergeant: Nobody can argue with Pintus

When Real Madrid re-hires Pintus, he says he does it because h’is the best on the planet in his specialty. Many of his collaborators also say so and don’t doubt it.

Antonio Pintus is a very interesting personality. Little is known about his personal life, and his method is a well-kept secret that any club would like to possess.

He is indisputable. The results are there for all to see, and the science is there to prove it, as are the statistics. His players get injured less, return to the field sooner after a physical problem, and run until the end of games.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Perroni, F., Pintus, A., Frandino, M., Guidetti, L., & Baldari, C. (2018). Relationship among repeated sprint ability, chronological age, and puberty in young soccer players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research32(2), 364-371.
  • Dellal, A., Chamari, K., Pintus, A., Girard, O., Cotte, T., & Keller, D. (2008). Heart rate responses during small-sided games and short intermittent running training in elite soccer players: a comparative study. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research22(5), 1449-1457.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.