Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Heading" into the FIFA World Cup!

Although most of us try to avoid striking our heads on objects whenever possible, football (soccer) players often use the tops of their heads as an effective means to control the ball. Sometimes they have the luxury of letting the ball come down towards them, and they can simply direct the ball to a teammate. However, there will be times an opponent is in the vicinity (e.g., defenders around the goal defending a corner kick), and the player will need to have terrific position, timing, and strength to win the battle for a solid strike on the ball with their head.

We found a wonderful video demonstrating a header. This video makes use of many of the principles we discussed in setting up a good video capture (http://videosportsanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/03/video-analysis-of-sports-101.html), including a well-positioned (and stationary) camera, a solid-colored background, and a sufficient light source placed behind the camera . Unfortunately, the video cannot be embedded into our blog, but can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VroNiXG8X4

In the above video, we see the player prepare to jump by swinging his arms backwards while bending his knees. As he goes into the jump, his arms come forward and upward, and he extends his hips, knees, and ankles. Getting into proper position and executing a well-balanced jump will improve the player's chances of striking the ball before his opponent can get to it. And to increase the force with which he strikes the ball (in this case, he is hitting the ball in a forward direction), he flexes his neck and anterior core muscles (e.g., his abs), and brings his arms back down just before impact. The player's strength comes into play during every aspect of this shot, including the preparation, the jump, and the strike.

Below, we've included a few highlights of some exciting headers during matchplay. Enjoy the clips, and we hope you are making good use of your cameras to film some excellent video for analysis!

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