Sport Can Kylian Mbappé also become a serial killer of the head?

FOOTBALL Already scoring three headed goals this season with Les Bleus and PSG, the Paris striker seems more at ease in the aerial game

The gesture was anything but trivial. After rising higher than everyone else to smack this magnificent uncrossed head with the Blues, against Kazakhstan, eleven days before the shock against Manchester City, Kylian Mbappé completed his traditional celebration arms folded with a few taps on the skull. All while looking Deschamps straight in the eye, as if to say “saw you, it wasn’t just a pussy licking yesterday!” “.

The day before, in fact, the Parisian had already found the way to the nets in training with a helmet, but the coach, who we know to be very much a chamberlain, had put this down to luck and hiding. neck which covered his face in the coldness of Clairefontaine.

“It’s true that I don’t have a great head game, but I’ve improved a lot already this year. It’s not yet a top level head game but it’s starting to sound like what I’m looking for. I will continue to work to score more, “he warned at the microphone of M6 before the meeting.

The figures attest to this: while he had only scored two small pawns in the head since his arrival at PSG, Mbappé has just investigated three since the start of the season (two with Paris, one in Blue), proof that something has changed about him. So much so that we wonder if,
like Karim Benzema before him, the 9-3 beep wasn’t going to add that arrow to his already full quiver of skills very quickly.

To speak of, who better than Claudio “Air” Beauvue, the former Guingampese kangaroo, so at ease when it comes to taking off to land devastating ball shots in front of goal? But before talking about pure technique and hard work in training, he was asked what he thought of Mbappé’s header at the Parc with the France team. “We know that is not his strong point, but for the moment, I found that he really applied himself to doing the right thing. He’s in the right timing, the technique is good, the head is just uncrossed what it takes. Nothing to say, we see that he works, “applauded the striker of US Boulogne, in National.

That’s right, he works. According to our colleagues from Le Parisien, number 7 of
PSG have put their foot down in training and no longer hesitate to ask their friends to send them high balloons to work on their head game. Because he knows, in his quest for perfection, if he wants to one day become the best striker in football history, he will have to become more complete and, therefore, more clinical in the head. In truth, if the former Monegasque was never a big fan of exercise, he is not an interstate nozzle in this area either.

No, if Mbappé has been reluctant lately to play with the skull, it is because he has a few bad aerial encounters in his memory. On two occasions, in fact, Mbappé suffered concussions after very violent shocks with Christophe Kerbrat (in 2016) and Anthony Lopes (in 2018). “Obviously that must have put the brakes on him,” Beauvue understands. But to be a good lead player, you have to not be afraid of going to a duel, you have to succeed in getting past this level of apprehension. If he can do that, and he has already started, he will be more and more liberated and he can win more and more aerial duels. “

Now that the trauma is behind him, Mbappé will once again be able to concentrate on the improvement work. Head technique, of course, but also a sense of timing, anticipation and vertical relaxation. On this point, Claudio Beauvue has no doubts, “his room for improvement is enormous. “A bit like Thierry Henry, my idol,” he says. He wasn’t a specialist in the head game early in his career, but over the years he has grown very strong. It’s easy for guys like that since they’re so far ahead of the crowd in a lot of areas, they can work on their weak spots quietly and progress at great speed. “

To fully understand the workings of good vertical relaxation, we gave a quick phone call in Japan to a specialist, Laurent Tillie, the coach of the French volleyball team, for whom jumps no longer have any purpose. secrets. So, coach, what makes a good jumper?

“Already, you still have to have a solid genetic basis,” says the very recent Olympic champion. And I think Mbappé saw them, seen his explosiveness, his speed, his incredible acceleration. These are all the qualities that are found in jumping. Afterwards, it’s classic: lots of muscle and sheathing for a strong trunk for better transmission of the jump, strong thighs and glutes “

“It’s clear that he already has everything he needs,” said Mickaël Hanany, the French high jump record holder (2.34 m) now retired. Afterwards, maybe it’s a little different way of working to get him to have a little more efficient head game. To have a vertical relaxation, for example, it is necessary to focus the work on the plyometrics and the sequences of vertical jumps. You have to have a basic physical predisposition, but if you orient the work well on these axes, anyone can gain a little relaxation. “

For Laurent Tillie, it’s like everything, it’s all about repetitions: “You have to know that in volleyball, we do between 150 and 180 jumps per player and per training, we really become kangaroos! “. But jumping high isn’t everything. And, unlike volleyball, continues the coach of the Panasonic Panthers, “in football there is more outside information to take into account. In addition to the trajectory of the ball, we must take into account those of other surrounding players, that of the defender with whom we are going to duel, the way in which we will take the ball with the head, etc. These are all parameters that can alter the quality of the jump. “

On this point, again there is no mystery. Claudio Beauvue: “You have to repeat the exercises in training, the crosses, the set pieces. And as and when you see the fruits of all this work hatch, and the fact of progressing also makes you love the exercise. You gain confidence, you end up having your bearings and over time it becomes a natural gesture. “For the former pretty Côtes d’Armor jumper, size is not an issue, contrary to popular belief that there are only large poles to dominate the sky. From the height of his meter 74, the boy knows what he is talking about.

“Since I’m not very tall, I always try to get ahead of the opponent by anticipating what my teammate is going to do. At the time, I was a fan of Chileans Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas. Despite their small size, they were helicopters, guys! I would watch them on TV a lot and I was super attentive when they nodded, I was careful of their way of positioning themselves, of triggering their calls, of jumping. “With a team-mate like Mauro Icardi, a doctor who is crazy when he’s not on Insta posting (love) stories, Mbappé has everything you need to learn and progress.

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