Manchester United’s towering Belgian spoke to FourFourTwo to give you tips on how to dominate your opponent in the air.
Improve your strength
“How you use your body is important when you’re challenging for headers. Some players are naturally strong, but you have to work on your strength in the gym as well. All the players at Manchester United work in the gym and you work on a lot of things, including your legs and your upper body. Sometimes we’ll work on our strength four times a week, sometimes three. If you’re playing 90 minutes in every match you need to recover, but you work in the gym when you can.”
Get your timing right
“I work on my jump a lot because timing is the most important thing when you’re trying to win a header. You must be better than your opponent with the timing of your jump. In training I’ll practise a lot with headers in front of goal. Giggsy or a player will cross the ball and you practise so that you’re good in the air during the game, so that you’re there at the right moment. It’s difficult to practise as much when you’re playing two games a week, but whenever there’s time I do it.”
Bring your teammates into play
“It’s not just about heading for goal. Sometimes you need to knock the ball down for someone else. You have to judge those types of headers by feel, to make sure you get the right power and direction. You also need to have the vision to see where your team-mates are, and where you have to head the ball. Again you need to work on it in training, practising headers when the goalkeeper kicks a long ball. Timing your jump is important again.”
*Marouane Fellaini wears the new Lava/Fireball New Balance Football Visaro boots, designed for players who ‘Make Chances’.