Cristiano Ronaldo runs more than 10km per game. This stamina is one reason his body fat is in the low single digits. Elite-level games are often decided in the final 20 minutes, the window when he scored more than a quarter of his goals last season.
In a typical game, he sprints 33 times at a top speed of 34km/h. His explosive acceleration and high soccer IQ enable him to time diagonal runs that outsmart the offside trap. He also has great balance and body control, and can change direction quickly. When dribbling, he’s the ultimate ankle breaker.
Elite players can be expected to squat 200kg, Norwegian researchers found. Strong quads are critical for a striker, who needs to jump to head the ball at goal. A British documentary measured Ronaldo’s jump off both feet at 78cm —NBA-worthy hops. That means he can head the ball when it’s 2.6m high.
Ronaldo can kick explosively, powering the ball at a ferocious 130km/h. Superior technique enables him to wrap the side of his foot around the ball when taking free-kicks, making it spin so much that it has a variable trajectory of up to 2.8m – often leaving the opposing team’s goalkeeper helpless.
Ronaldo is able to process the game faster than other players, says Zoe Wimshurst, director of Performance Vision. Elite athletes develop faster eye movement, looking at up to seven places per second versus the average person’s max of five. When he’s dribbling at a defender, he watches for movement clues while assessing thousands of permutations drawn from hours of play – and he does this unconsciously.
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