Cristiano Ronaldo: Sports scientist explains the Juventus star's insane jumping

  • Kobe Tong

Cristiano Ronaldo is world football's ultimate physical specimen.

Aside from being one of the most talented players to ever grace the beautiful game, Ronaldo has risen to the top by working harder than all his adversaries to improve his skills and longevity.

Not only have those long hours in the gym and early trips to the training grounded helped him to five Ballon d'Or trophies, but it's also allowed him to maintain peak physical performance in his thirties.

For example, it's remarkable to think that Ronaldo clocked the fastest sprint speed at the 2018 World Cup despite the fact he was 33 years old at the time of the tournament.

But Ronaldo's physical work is more than just his sprinting and looking ripped when he celebrates, CR7 is also famous for a remarkable jumping ability that makes him lethal in the air.

Air Ronaldo

For our money, we've never seen a player who has been able to master the skill to the point they can seemingly hover in the penalty area and out-jump players far taller than himself.

You only need to look at his goal against Sampdoria this season or his header at home to Manchester United in 2013 to see that Ronaldo is the king of the airways.

But what does it take to become that dominant in the air? Well, we might not have the scientific answers to that question, but sports scientist and physical therapist Dr. Rajpal Brar certainly does.


Analysis of Ronaldo's jumping

Brar is a master at breaking down the talents of world-class players on his YouTube channel '3CB Performance' and has given the most in-depth analysis of Ronaldo's jumping that we've ever seen.

You can check out his full video on the topic down below and keep scrolling for our run through of the points discussed in the analysis:

Vertical leap

CR7 uses two separate techniques when rising high above defenders is the aim of the game: 

Single leg power jump: 

Minor details in Ronaldo's preparation are vital in gaining optimum height and hang time, including a coordinated arm swing to increase vertical force and a sweeping leg arch that almost sees his toe skim the grass.

This was apparent in his Ronaldo's remarkable goal against Sampdoria, elevating himself to 2.56 metres, which is higher than the average NBA athlete can leap.


Two-leg drop jump:

However, it's not the only way that Ronaldo defies the laws of gravity and his Euro 2016 header versus Wales perfectly highlights the 'mini hop' he sometimes deploys to create SSC (stretch-shorten cycle).

These types of jumps elongate key muscle groups such as the knee and hip extensors, which then recoil like a spring to create a quicker transition into the flight phase.


Horizontal leap


Balanced leap


Many factors behind Ronaldo's brilliance

Other areas explored are how Ronaldo generates his horizontal thrust, essentially through coordinating his entire torso for optimal force, as well as the player's fearlessness and elite mentality.

And it's an important note for Brar to end on, because as much as Ronaldo's incredible jumping is the product of perfect athletic technique, it would be nothing without the right man behind it.

It's one thing to have the minutia of the jump figured out in training and another thing to replicate it when you're bulldozing across a penalty area with world-class defenders around you.


Ronaldo, in other words, has the body of a machine, but the heart and mind of something distinctly human: a warrior.

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