At the start of this article let me clarify that I am not criticising Jordan Henderson for not being Lionel Messi. Some might say it’s unfair to compare Henderson’s pelvic strike with the best player in the world. However, this is an analysis of movement and, when we are striving to improve, we should always compare ourselves with the best. Learn to move like them and consequently we can find areas in our movement to improve. This is where Movement LessonTM can help our body to move more efficiently and effectively, playing an important role in a footballer’s prehabilitation. On the eve of the commencement of the 2021 champions league, comparing the captain of Liverpool with the captain of Barcelona seems a good starting point.
Jordan Henderson is in the midst of a stellar career. A premier league winner, a Champions league winner & 50+ cap England player. You might wonder if there’s any need to highlight what it is that Henderson needs to improve. Even in the video embedded just below this paragraph, there are some spectacular goals scored by Henderson. However, there is a clear flaw to his technique too, which could make his career even better. It is to do with his pelvic strike or lack thereof.
Firstly, as you can see from the freeze frames below, Henderson’s pelvis is rounded when he makes contact with the ball. A pelvic strike is when your pubic bone makes a distinct, sharp movement in a specific direction that causes the hips & coccyx to cross midline. Henderson lacks this strike as he makes contact with the ball.
As a result, he loses all his forward momentum, causing a jarring of different joints in the legs, hip & back. Consequently, his pelvis collapses and at contact his eyes and head are a long way back from the ball. This is most notable when he strikes the ball in the middle picture below. As you can see his hip becomes rounded at contact, consequently he is off balance & falls to the floor. Putting more strain on the limbs & joints again. Furthermore, notice Henderson’s eyes. He is so off balance that his back is facing the ball when he is on his knees and he loses eye contact with the ball.
The video highlights some of Henderson’s best moments & the glitch in movement is still apparent. More likely the ball will not end up in a successful outcome as he lacks control. Furthermore, if the shot is blocked Henderson is prone on the floor & his team are a man down. Losing sight of the ball further emphasises how he is out of the game. The time it takes to locate where the ball is & move in that direction will impact the effectiveness of Henderson’s recovery.
Now compare this to Lionel Messi. As you can see in the freeze frames below, Messi’s hips move like a Cha-Cha-Cha Dancer. Like a seesaw as one hip distinctly moves up the other clearly counter-balances by opposing that movement and goes down. Messi strikes the ball and his movement continues; he is already moving anticipating the return pass or rebound. This is emphasised in goal 6 versus FC Copenhagen where Messi lands beyond two defenders following his shot. Not having to check his movement gives Messi decisive time to move clear of defenders. Furthermore, Messi is well balanced because of the counterbalance of the hips & coccyx. He is in control of his movement and ultimately will have greater accuracy in his shot, pass or cross (see below comparison of Messi & Henderson’s accuracy stats).
|Jordan Henderson||Lionel Messi|
|Shots on Target||0/6||15/31|
Significant here is the similar passing accuracy when Messi plays in an area of the field where there will be less space & more opponents. Whereas, Henderson will be afforded more time and space with his passes, with him receiving the ball in deeper lying positions. Messi has similar accuracy despite it being harder for him. Likewise, Messi’s greater accuracy is evident in his shooting; although Henderson’s is a small sample size, 66% of his shots are off target, compared to Messi’s 23% being off target.
Another statistic worth highlighting is the number of games both players have played. Messi has played 485 Games to Henderson’s 350. That is an average of 30.3 per season to Henderson’s 25. This is due to the number of games missed due to injury. According to Transfermarkt.com Henderson has missed 66 Liverpool games since 15/16 season, whereas Messi has missed 28 games. That’s an average of 13.2 Liverpool games missed per season by Henderson, compared to Messi missing an average of 5.6 for Barcelona over the same time span. Remember the added strain Henderson’s movement puts on his body. In his career he has suffered from heel bone; metatarsal fracture; torn knee ligament; foot injury; hamstring x3; & a knee injury. All lower body injuries. Both are key players to their team, but Messi is rarely absent & yet Henderson is.
The good news for Henderson and any other player in the world who lacks a distinctive pelvic strike is that Movement LessonTM can help initiate an effective strike. This highlights the important role that Movement LessonTM can play in prehabilitation. The emphasis in Movement LessonTM sessions is all about creating and enhancing functional movement. Sessions can be performed in lying and seated positions with a view to complete sessions in a standing position while the player performs different techniques.
Initially, weight transfer techniques can be used that improves rotation in the hips. Furthermore, rotation will be used to improve effectiveness of the pelvic strike with counter-balance of the hips encouraged. Working up through the spine this will lead to increased rotation, consequently integrating shoulders for added balance and the eyes for improved vision.
For sessions that can be used to improve this:
For details of a free movement lesson on how to work on Pelvic Strike please add your email details here.