Thursday 20 June 2019

Manchester United coach Tony Strudwick: Sport science not sit-ups keeps Ronaldo on top

Moderator Andy McGeady, left, Sports Data Journalist, with speaker Tony Strudwick, second left, Head of Athletic Development, Manchester United, with Bill James, Senior Advisor, Boston Red Sox, and Sean O'Connor, right, co-Founder, Stat Sports on the sport stage during Day 2 of the 2014 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin
Moderator Andy McGeady, left, Sports Data Journalist, with speaker Tony Strudwick, second left, Head of Athletic Development, Manchester United, with Bill James, Senior Advisor, Boston Red Sox, and Sean O'Connor, right, co-Founder, Stat Sports on the sport stage during Day 2 of the 2014 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

It’s not just 3,000 sit-ups a day that keeps Cristiano Ronaldo at the head of the table in world football.

The Real Madrid superstar is renowned for his obsession with his body and keeping himself in perfect condition. One Madrid source recently revealed that he can “spend well over an hour every day toning his abs, sometimes while watching telly”.

The results speak for themselves but the secret behind Ronaldo’s awesome physical attributes are a lot more complex than a television set and a few planks.

Sports science is playing a more direct role for the athletes of today and with the rapid growth of hi-tech data, clubs and coaches can now measure the performance to a much greater level and pinpoint where improvements need to be made.

“When Cristiano Ronaldo was at United, he averaged 50 games a season, 4,000 minutes on field, three games a week,” said Manchester United coach Tony Strudwick  at the Web Summit in Dublin today.

“Come the business end of the season we had to get him to recover. How can we keep him in a high performance state? All the information we gather from data keeps him there.”

Alex Ferguson was around a long time before the internet was, never mind heart monitors and in depth data analytics.

“Alex Ferguson was the master of making big decisions,” added Strudwick.

“We are moving into a different environment where coaches are more tuned into data and Ferguson did embrace that near the back end of his career.

“On a daily basis we are dealing with £550m worth of assets. We have to make the right decisions for players. You are using data and technology to help facilitate those decisions. This will be the coaching model of the future.”

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