Give him the eyes, Cristiano!

The best players put body language above ball-work to tell what an opponent will do next

If you’ve ever wondered why Cristiano Ronaldo loves a step-over, don’t think he’s just showing off.

Eye-tracker tests by Southampton University sports scientist Zoe Wimshurst reveal that when Ronaldo has the ball at his feet, he’s secretly reading his opponent’s body movements and planning his next move. The study also shows that the world’s best players do this a whole lot more than the rest of us.

More after the break

“We found that Cristiano, when compared to other players, looks a lot more to his opponent’s hips and the space around him,” says Wimshurst.

“By faking his own body movements, Ronaldo bought time to read the position of a defender’s hips, knees and feet, and so determine his best ‘escape route’.”

Similar studies from America and Bath University, meanwhile, claim that amateur footballers are far more likely to look at an opponent’s feet and the ball.

“Cristiano’s ability to look beyond the ball is a result of hours and hours of practise, of course, but it is something that can be developed in a player over time,” explains Wimshurst.

How? Grab a ball and a mate, and head over to the park to practise passing drills that encourage you to look up while dribbling. Superstardom awaits.

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