How Does ‘Superhuman’ Ronaldo Jump so Unbelievably High?
Defying gravity, the Portugal legend jumped almost 2.6 meters (8 feet 5 inches) in the air and stayed there for 1.5 seconds.
Defying gravity, the Portugal legend jumped almost 2.6 meters (8 feet 5 inches) in the air and stayed there for 1.5 seconds.(Photo: FIT)

How Does ‘Superhuman’ Ronaldo Jump so Unbelievably High?

Football fans sat frozen in their seats as Cristiano Ronaldo leaped above a defender and literally, hung in the air to score a magnificent header against his opponents at Sampdoria.

Defying gravity, the Portugal legend jumped almost 2.56 meters (8 feet 5 inches) in the air and stayed there for 1.5 seconds, marking only his second-highest leap. Back in 2013, he had stunned the world with his 2.93 meters jump in the UEFA Champions League.

The score garnered admiration from even the opponent team’s coach, Claudio Ranieri, who said that all he could do was applaud. "When someone scores a goal like that you have to just watch and admire."

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The King of Leaps: How Does Cristiano Ronaldo Do It?

Whether it’s Michael Phelps’ record-breaking performances or Serena William’s magnificent victories, such ‘moments of magic’ are not rare among sporting legends. But what’s behind their out-of-the-world moves? Is it as simplistic as their genes?

The ethnicity, environment, habitat, and years of evolution — all play a role in making people from across the world differ in their genetic makeup. As a result, some may have more favourable genes than others.

Research into the area has time and again found certain ‘superior’ genes that could help a particular individual excel in particular activities. For instance, studies on African runners discovered that they had biological advantages like more red blood cells, better oxygen uptake, lower energy cost of running and differences in BMI, body shapes and legs — perhaps due to their elevated habitat.

FIT spoke with Dr Rajat Chauhan, who specializes in Sports-Exercise Medicine and Osteopathy/Musculo-Skeletal Medicine. While he agrees that genes are important, he asserts the importance of not reducing a player’s success down to their genetic makeup. “Of course, they are talented. But it’s more about what you do with these genes. Discipline, training, and years of experience show in Ronaldo’s physique and performance.”

“It is in fact, commendable that Ronaldo is able to jump that high. As a footballer, he needs to know headers and he needs to be trained in these jumps. It’s all an integral part of his training. In the end, it was this fitness, training and discipline that worked cumulatively.”
Dr Rajat Chauhan

An important point Dr Rajat makes is that athletes today are more holistic sportspersons and are trained beyond their craft and sport. This general training and fitness contributes to their performances on the ground, adding to their stamina, energy and physical capabilities.

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It is Exceptional, But Possible

Dr Nikhil Latey is a physiotherapist and a sports scientist. In conversation with FIT, he explains that he commonly comes across badminton players who jump this high. What makes Ronaldo’s jump extraordinary is his weight and height.

“Height is directly proportional to carrying weight, and both things determine how high it is possible for someone to jump. The badminton players are lightweight, making these jumps possible for them. But Ronaldo is above 80 kgs and 1.87 meters tall, making it more challenging for him to do what he did. The logic is simple: the heavier the rocket, the more power it would need to push. It’s amazing that Ronaldo’s legs are able to generate that much power.”
Dr Nikhil Latey

The 34-year-old footballer’s rigorous training and years of experience have given him the expertise to do the ‘impossible’. He adds, “The truth is, you don’t know what more he is capable of.”

“There’s a huge gap between the best amateur and the worst professional. A professional’s years of training reflect. So for someone of Ronaldo’s calibre, such leaps are possible. But since the amount of power he needs to do it is humongous, his effort and training deserve credit.”
Dr Nikhil Latey

The internet carries various articles on the kinds of training Ronaldo undergoes and the fitness regimes he follows. Pilates, resistance training, swimming, and even cryotherapy. But Dr Rajat reiterates that while each of these may matter, the underlying point remains: Ronaldo’s overall discipline, training, and experience make him what he is today. He might just break his own record the next time!

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