The Eyes Have It Watch where he’s look­ing...

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

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

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. “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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