Experts in Sport - Testing Cristiano Ronaldo's free kick

In this episode of the “Experts in Sport” podcast, host Stuart McErlain-Naylor sits down with Dr Neal Smith, reader in Biomechanics at Chichester University, to discuss his research on football kicking, as well as his experience testing elite athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

He shares his knowledge on what makes a good technique when it comes to striking the ball, diving into his experience of testing Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick and how it separates him from other athletes.

Loughborough alumnus Dr Smith also details how he communicates findings and tackles unexpected results, as well as how this research can be translated into improvement in performance for everyday athletes.

Neal Smith graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 1993, having studied Sport and Exercise Science, before completing a Masters in Ergonomics at Loughborough University in 1994. Finally, in 1999, he achieved a PhD in Sport Biomechanics at Southampton University, exploring ‘Biomechanical analysis of non-linear motion in soccer’.

His current research direction examines the biomechanics of non-linear motion in sports, with a significant interest in racket sports and kicking actions. He is also active in providing sports science support work to athletes from a variety of different sports, including Elite Divers and Cricket bowlers.

Listeners of the podcast can subscribe and download the latest episode by visiting iTunes, Spotify, and TuneIn. All subscribers will receive an alert once new episodes are published.

The Experts in Sport podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia with new episodes launched regularly.


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/79

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.