You don't have to be tall to dominate the skies, says Socceroo's aerial master Tim Cahill to FourFourTwo. Timmy has a 5-point guide to make sure you've got the technique right.
1) Winning headers starts in gym
"To leap above your opponent you need to have explosive power in your legs. This is forged in the gym. Having that power in your lower body gives you added spring and that is what launches you into the air. Focus on plyometrics and dynamic exercises like lunges and squats. Once you're airborne and colliding with an opponent, you need upper body strength to hold off his challenge and win the ball."
2) Time it right
"Every week I play against someone who is a lot taller than me and to beat them I have to time my run into the box just right. I watch the man with the ball, react to his delivery, track its flight and arrive to make the perfect connection. Don't just head it - meet it. If you jump just before your opponent, you're in the air with time to decide where you're going to head the ball."
3) Use your arms
"Once you're in the air it's important to have your arms out so you can use them as an elevation tool. They will help to propel you upwards, and then hold off challengers. They will also help you set your position so that you can get extra power into your header. Watch the ball the whole way as it approaches, then use your forehead to direct the ball where you want."
4) Put your neck into it
"Now you've got in a position to score, it's about getting the technique right. To direct the ball accurately with your head, your upper body posture has to be right so you can use your neck muscles to either power a downward header into the bottom corner or lob it over a goalkeeper. Get up, be powerful and execute the finish with finesse."
5) Be brave
"I'm fearless when it comes to attacking the ball. In my mind, there's only ever going to be one winner. You need to be the guy who's willing to put his head in where it hurts. Do that and nine times out of 10 you'll win the battle. I attack the ball like it's the last thing I'm ever going to do. Believe in your ability and place the ball out of the goalkeeper's reach."
Tim Cahill wears the New Balance Visaro 2.0 Pro.