Who & What are they really?
The facts that most are not aware of or fail to acknowledge.
The Build of World Class Footballers
They are not bulky, muscular, or robotic. They are smooth, elastic, fluid movers. They are lean, stringy, and explosive. They are not big yet capable of great speed, power, and stamina. Their bodies do not favor muscle, interconnected as one seamless unit. Their bodies are as strong as they are moldable. Their bodies move with a certain gracefulness and artistic ability yet to be quantified by society. A kind of swagger unique to the individual, and their own set of characteristics fostered by decades of the Game and its demands. Their body working as a whole is greater than the sum of individual muscles.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”― Aristotle
They are not made in the gym. They are not manufactured. They are not put together like cars on a factory line. Parts of their bodies are not isolated in the gym and strengthened on the idea of hypertrophy. Do any of these guys look like they’ve spent significant time building up their body in the gym?
It is through a natural process of development that they have become the World Class footballers they are. It is like the seed in the ground that grows into a tall mighty tree or the caterpillar that goes into the cocoon and comes out a butterfly. It is a holistic metamorphosis.
The Physique of World Class Footballers
Top footballers have a deceptively well developed posterior chain. This means their hamstrings and glutes are very well connected. There is less prominence of the calves and quadriceps relatively. You’ll see many orthodox defenders and less athletic players will possess quite well developed calves or quads. This is usually a sign of different neurological recruitment patterns that are ineffective for world class athletic performance.
What if I told you that the recruitment patterns that you have will determine what muscles will grow and develop? That is why two people can do the same exercise and each have different sensations. Traditional weightlifting and even more functional weight-based methods will only reinforce the incorrect recruitment patterns. That is only due to the nature of weight and how your brain decides best to respond to lifting heavy things in a slow isolationary manner. This differs to what your brain thinks best for quick powerful movement in sport and everyday movement.
Notice how the slender legs lead up to strong thick muscles in the glutes and torso. Lower leg is largely tendon and fascia.
The Feet of World Class Footballers
If you look closely below, you’ll see prominent tendons on the top of the feet coming from the toes. You will notice retracted toes. This is most obvious on these pictures of Messi and Fernando Torres.
Average people have feet that will not display similar characteristics. Most importantly the average person’s foot will not be able to perform during play the way that the world class footballer’s foot allows them to.
There are clear similarities to the feet of all fast and powerful land animals like gazelles, jaguars, and other four legged land animals. The compact thick hooves, the thin wiry lower legs, and the big powerful upper limbs all have commonalities to the world-class footballer.
The Origins of the World Class Footballer
It is no coincidence that all the exciting, powerful, and elite footballers are from or have ancestry in areas of the planet with the strongest sunlight. This is in the Tropics which is 20 degrees north and south of the equator. That means places like South America & Central Africa.
There are the players that merely possess the genetic characteristics passed down to them from generations of strong solar exposure.
This is most evident in France who had decades of African immigration and now possess the most professional players playing across the world.
Why is that? It starts with Ultraviolet(UV) light which is the spectrum of light that increases in Sunlight the more you go towards the equator. Simply, UV light has a big influence on muscle fiber composition and mitochondrial optimization which lends itself to elite performance. Skin color is also an evolutionary adaptation to the higher UV levels. It is no surprise the best players in Football look like they are no stranger to the sun.
The significance of UV light having many health & performance implications open up several avenues for further investigation.
Direct Sun Exposure is the key here. Pro footballers didn’t grow up inside all day out of the sun.
Dr. Jack Kruse is the leader in this field. He speaks heavily on having “skin in the game”.
The Childhood of a World Class Footballer
How often do we hear the rags-to-riches story?
I will tell you that it is no coincidence that the best players often come from lower or middle class families. There are many reasons for this. One major reason being that kids in these areas are more likely to be outside all day.
This means they are in Nature as opposed to being locked up in a chair in school all day inside a classroom, sometimes with no windows or fresh air.
They don’t have to be stuck behind a computer screen which is more and more becoming the case in First World countries. Being around less technology in such a vulnerable state as childhood is essential for proper growth and development.
Another big aspect of this is Food.
Growing up in impoverished areas is different to wealthier families where you have access to most kinds of food at all times of the day. They are just having 2-3 meals a day unlike in westernized culture it is common to be snacking all day. This goes into a topic known as time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting. Something humans have done without thinking for centuries until modern times.
This is a very nuanced topic as a wealthier family in a developing country like Brazil might be more like the modernized American family I describe, and some western families might operate more traditionally. It depends a lot on one’s cultural upbringing and socioeconomic background.
While it is commonly thought the healthiest and most nutritious food is most accessible in the more advanced first world countries and developing countries are stuck eating rations, it is quite the opposite. Eating locally and seasonally in the way Nature designed usually is normal for those growing up in developing countries. You benefit from avoiding the convenience of processed foods and fast food chains. Unfortunately as time goes on, this is becoming harder and harder as globalization spreads and international corporations move into new countries.
Food is a complicated story, but it revolves around light. The more advanced the place you live is, the less likely you are to be eating the way Nature intended. As you will learn, food is much less important than commonly thought.
The Game of a World Class Footballer
The most obvious, is that all pro players come from a childhood full of unstructured free play.
This means playing in the street, in the cage, or any other form of small-sided football. This is the skatepark where younger players learn on the fly from older players. Older players try out new tricks and push the limits of their ability against lesser competition. This is a win-win situation which doesn’t exist in many modernized cities.
Whereas in the West, we see organized structured football as early as age 6 or 7. We see countless football trainers talking about endless varieties of drills that attempt to imitate the Game.
You might notice how this coincides with being outside in the sun all day.
In the West, we see non-contact injuries as early as 11 or 12 whereas developing countries are pumping out high caliber footballers year after year. I think it’s time we learn from the best.
A 2014 German study looked at a group of national team players and first Bundesliga players vs a group of 4th to 6th division players:
“National Team differed from amateurs in more non-organised leisure football in childhood, more engagement in other sports in adolescence, later specialisation, and in more organised football only at age 22+ years.”
You can look at the numbers. The earlier you institute structured play in children and specialize them to one sport, the more and worse injuries they sustain. This obviously means they won’t be developing at all.
A 2014 study on NBA first round draft picks found:
“Those who were multisport athletes participated in more games, experienced fewer major injuries, and had longer careers than those who participated in a single sport.”
Above all, these are clues from the elite footballers at the top. They are not aware of these things themselves. For them it is unconscious. That is why I call them the Natural. Natural is a rare commodity. That is why they rise to the top with ease. From these clues, with the right knowledge, you can deduce the path to becoming a world class footballer.
All that you’ve read above are general concepts that represent years of ever-evolving research. There will always be exceptions to certain ideas, a nuance that requires its own article, or even new understandings come to light that alter our prior conclusions. Each concept is merely a summary covering multiple fields of interconnected information that will be teased out over time, here inside my private community.
So What Now?
You’ll find when you begin to think in this way of studying the elites and then working backwards, a lot of the mainstream ideas around athletics, health, and football don’t add up. You’ll see that much advice regarding training, lifestyle, and nutrition doesn’t make sense when you compare it to what is actually happening in Nature.
It becomes clear working in the gym, for more reasons than one, is not the answer. It’ll become clear endlessly doing ball mastery drills won’t make you an elite footballer.
Learning to ask the right questions will get you better answers.
What if I told you that modern science doesn’t know everything and that especially surrounding the human body, there are large gaps of knowledge. This is obvious when you compare the amounts of injury and poor health to what the modern sports science community speaks about. There is an extreme focus on muscle, calories, and cardio. I don’t think that is going so well.
Then ask yourself how are 16-18 year olds able to break into the 1st team, play at the highest level, and dominate older players who have years of more muscle development? It is rather obvious that these young stars have yet to fill out their bodies.
With muscle development maturing much farther into your twenties, how are these young kids capable of displacing senior pros? There is no clear answer according to modern science. They say it’s just talent, good genes, or natural ability. Those words sound great, but what they’re really doing is ending the conversation and thereby the investigation.
Modern Science is backwards. They do thousands of studies on untrained college students, and then try to apply their findings to world-class athletes. You should be studying the best and trying to decode their greatness. That is what Football Entangled is all about.
The world class footballer is the Natural. A concept of my own making that describes the unconscious development of top athletes of all sports. Check out The Tree to see how I’ve mapped out the makings of World Class Footballers, and compiled the key concepts into The Way of the Natural Course.
- Dr. Jack Kruse – https://jackkruse.com/
- Dr. Michael Tal Rischer