Does it get any better an example than Portuguese hit man Cristiano Ronaldo?
Ronaldo’s career seems to be always entering a new era of success and following his triumph with Portugal at Euro 2016 the Real Madrid star could and maybe should be one his way to another Ballon Dór and a place amongst football’s greatest ever players.
Cristiano Ronaldo is Real Madrid’s record goal scorer and a cabinet full of individual awards and records. But how did he go from playing for a local side at just eight years old, to wowing fans in the world’s biggest stadiums in the world’s biggest competitions? This is a player for whom practice very much made perfect.
The ultimate techinical player Ronaldo is two footed, able to pass and able to score. Ronaldo epitomizes the ultimate modern footballer, but from age eight when he signed for Portuguese amateur team Andorinha, this is a player whose dedication to hard work and practice in mastering the basics, provided the foundation for him to build his masterful game.
Perfecting both feet
Ronaldo can control the ball, pass and shoot with both feet. This is something that any player that has intentions of making the big time needs to be able to do. The early training at Andorinha and Sporting Lisbon would start with daily control and passing drills, designed to increase the ability of Ronaldo´s left foot as well as his main right foot. Ronaldo has talked about his early struggles with his left foot, but there is none of this in evidence today as his left foot is proving to be an equally lethal weapon as his right. From basic control of the ball with his left foot, to being able to pass and being able to shoot and score, the dedication to perfecting both feet saw Ronaldo double the weapons at his disposal.
An essential part of any players game, from short-range passing to being able to cross or even pick out passes from anywhere on the pitch, Ronaldo highlights what you can achieve when the basics are mastered. Like most European academies, the academy at Sporting Lisbon where Ronaldo built his game, focused on possession and the importance of passing. Much like the famous Spanish Tikki Takka style, Sporting focused their game on possession of the ball and each day Ronaldo would be training short passes to feet and longer passes in the air. The ability to practice every day increases the speed of your feet and speed of your thoughts. The Ronaldo we see today perfecting incredible passes all over the pitch is the result of hours, days, months, and years of practice. Even today Real Madrid’s opening training exercise is a passing drill.
How does Ronaldo score so many goals? Because he knows exactly what to do in situations that he has practiced thousands of times at home, on the training field and on the pitch. If, like Ronaldo, you want to score you have to know exactly how to score. Ronaldo spent much of his childhood practicing his shooting, and improving his technique and body shape to be able to guide the ball where he wants it to go. In situations that every striker will know – the one-on-one with the goalkeeper – Ronaldo is one of the world’s deadliest finishers, but why? Mostly because he has spent so much of his life perfecting that side of his game and knows exactly where and how to put the ball. Ronaldo scored 61 goals in 2014/15 and an equally blistering 51 goals last season, his best ever, and he still continues to work hard on his shooting every day.
Now into his thirties Ronaldo is entering a new phase in his career where by his body may start to slow down and stop him from making all of those lung bursting runs that he has perfected for so long. Ronaldo looks to have acknowledged this and is changing his game – making himself even better, even as he slows down. His adaptability is a perfect example of how Ronaldo is able to look at his strengths and weaknesses and target his training and practise towards making these parts of his game stronger and stronger.
There couldn’t be a better example for young players who might find themselves struggling with certain aspects of the game. Keep practising and soon the weaknesses that you have now could be your biggest strength.
Ronaldo shows us all that greatness is possible. BUT what do all great players have in common? A dedication to work hard on the basics, practicing every day and being ready when your chance comes. You might not be there right now but with the right hard work anything is possible!!