Ronaldo: The Secret Of His Hang-Time Header Against Manchester United
Every Saturday Alan Shearer will say something along the lines of ‘he’s hung in the air like a salmon there’, causing millions across the country to chew on their knuckles. While we don’t think he’s a science geek, hang-time is a reality. Here’s the short version.
This apparent suspension is the result of projectile motion. Put simply, this dictates that when you jump you will spend longer at the top of the jump. Also, the higher you jump, the longer you will spend in the air. Gravity is of course the leveler. Newton’s baby is a constant force while your vertical leap is not. However if you work at it you can increase the strength of your jump and therefore in time your projectile motion will defy gravity for that crucial half second longer. Try straight jumps, jumping onto boxes or steps and straight sprint training.
Jumping is about more than just the vertical leap. The takeoff also plays a big part. When you run and jump, the horizontal and vertical components happen together, even though they are two different components. While the horizontal part doesn’t change as it isn’t affected by gravity, you can improve your take off to aid greater hang-time
Essentially your hang-time is an arc. You spend half of the jump in the top half, and half in the bottom half when taking off and landing. To improve the shape of your arc, and therefore your take off, you need to increase the power of your take off with squats and dynamic power exercises.
When Ronaldo first joined Manchester United, he was a skinny kid known only for stepovers and the odd dive. Over time though, his heading ability and hang-time improved as he added bulk to his physique. Even if you’re a pub striker who goes to the gym, you can work on your dynamic strength and start leaping like Shearer’s favourite fish.
You can find out more on the secrets of player hang time here.
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