Sunday 25 August 2019

Anatomy of Cristiano Ronaldo: How he became the perfect footballing specimen

Cristiano Ronaldo scores Portugal's first goal vs Wales on Wednesday's match. Photo: Carl Recine
Cristiano Ronaldo scores Portugal's first goal vs Wales on Wednesday's match. Photo: Carl Recine
The aim of Ronaldo's training programme would be to increase his muscular endurance. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach

Cristiano Ronaldo has that potent combination of not only being a great finisher, but also having the instinct for goals that all great strikers have.

The ball-striking

Cristiano Ronaldo has that potent combination of not only being a great finisher, but also having the instinct for goals that all great strikers have.

He strikes the ball in a unique way. For most great finishers, it is about placing the ball in the right spot, aiming for the corners with the stroke of the boot. You work on your technique to strike with the outside or inside of your foot to put the correct spin on a shot.

Ronaldo's shooting is so pure, the ball has more of a wobble than a swerve. He can get elevation and dip. Goalkeepers have no idea which way it's going to bend. He has mastered the art of striking with such power that when he hits the target the keeper is in trouble.

So often you see a goal and think the keeper is at fault. Then you see the replay and realise why a shot was unstoppable.

Add to this is incredible athleticism and heading ability and he can score every type of goal. But ultimately it is his instinct that enables him to break so many records.

Read More: 'Ronaldo's shot was useless...apart from goal he didn't do anything' - Joe Ledley says Bale is superior to Real team-mate

People often make the mistake of saying a great finisher makes you a great goalscorer, but it's the knack of knowing exactly where to be at the right time that makes the difference between a prolific striker and a scorer of great goals.

It doesn't matter how good a finisher you are if you're not capable of working your way into positions to get chances.

It's almost taken for granted how good Ronaldo is at this. That instinct can't be coached. It is an understanding of the game, knowing where the ball is going to drop in the penalty area. Some people think it's just as simple as finding space in the box, but that's not it.

Players like Ronaldo are more interested in making the most out of half a yard of space in the penalty area than moving into areas where there are four yards hoping the ball will come his way. This is why he is breaking so many goalscoring records and is such a phenomenon.

Michael Owen, former England striker

The leap

When you assess the pure jumping up bit, what Ronaldo did isn't actually that extraordinary.

I would say it is completely achievable if you are well conditioned and you are a phenomenal athlete like Ronaldo is - because let us not forget that he is one of the greatest physical specimens in world football.

But what I'm most impressed with is how he calculates the timing to do that. Working out exactly when to get his head so high to head the ball is like a high jumper timing the exact peak of their jump with the point that they pass over the bar. That is way more impressive than simply jumping high.

In terms of his timing, sequencing and having the clarity to be able to control his neck muscles to make the ball do what it did in that moment, it is magnificent.

Read More: Cristiano Ronaldo reveals what he told Gareth Bale during their post match embrace

Add in the fact that he did it at a key moment in such an important match and it is even more extraordinary.

Lots of people jump high when it doesn't really matter but he did it at the precise moment when it meant everything and he still had the capacity to make a crucial decision.

When people talk about the time he stays in the air, I would say that he probably isn't reaching his full height so when he stretches up it makes it look like he's hanging there. Actually he isn't going as high as he can do, so he looks like he's floating. To be able to do that requires extraordinary core strength.

His physicality is so amazing that I think he could be a world-class decathlete if he wanted to. Although he might need to take a little chop in earnings!

Fuzz Caan, British high jumping coach

The mentality

Ronaldo clearly displays alpha-male characteristics and his on-pitch behaviours suggest that he is indeed dominant over his compatriots and competitors. One example of this is how he often celebrates by taking his shirt off and adopting 'power poses'.

This could demonstrate an unconscious approach to show dominance and exert his influence over others and is designed to show his physical strength and size.

Research has long identified how physical expression can influence psychological processes and recent research has shown how power posing (expansive poses using the limbs of the body) can indeed increase feelings of power, risk-taking behaviour and even decision making.

While this sense of power can lead to a more focused approach for Ronaldo himself, these actions can also impact on the people around him.

Obviously Ronaldo is captain and his role will inherently promote his leadership, but he is also likely to be able to exert more influence on his team-mates after demonstrating his alpha-male behaviours.

Read More: Video: Cristiano Ronaldo proves what a classy guy he is as he makes one young fan's dreams come true

Before the penalty shoot-out against Poland, Ronaldo was shown to be persuading his team-mates to come and take a penalty.

By showing his team-mates that he - as captain and group alpha male - believes in them this was likely to be a more powerful message than if delivered by a less dominant member of the team.

The Ronaldo-Bale storyline was also bought swiftly into focus in the lead-up to the Portugal-Wales semi-final and was pitched at trying to guess who would get the upper hand.

Without being inside the Real Madrid camp, it's difficult to understand the true nature of their relationship, but after Ronaldo was shown to embrace and speak to Bale at length after the final whistle it certainly seemed like he was trying to lead Bale, offering support and condolences.

The true effect of this communication may reinforce his dominance over Bale in the new Spanish season.

Richard Collins, sport psychologist at Head for a Win

The physique

The aim of Ronaldo's training programme would be to increase his muscular endurance - the ability to maintain power for a certain period of time.

As such, he would be doing a lot of interval and intermittent training which would need to reach at least 75pc of his maximum heart rate in order to achieve physical adaptation and get the physique we see today.

To get those powerful legs, he would need to build strength in his quadriceps, hamstrings, calf strength. To achieve this, he would need to perform functional tasks such as squats, deadlifts and lunges.

The main question everyone wants to know, however, is how does he get those abs?

Read More: Titanic clash more than a showdown between Bale and Ronaldo

For any footballer, core strength is fundamental for balance, posture and maintaining a powerful drive. Also, it means that, when he does get barged while running at speed, he is able to maintain balance and stay on his feet.

I would imagine he would be doing a lot of plank, side-plank, burpees and leg raises in order to maintain strength here. To maintain the physique, diet is key as it accounts for 55pc of a person's capabilities.

He would need to take in enough protein to build the muscle - such as chicken breast - while consuming foods such as brown rice and pasta to attain the complex carbohydrates needed to get the energy he needs to meet the demands of his environment.

Roache Boateng, personal trainer

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport