Football vs Soccer: What’s Faster – Cristiano Ronaldo’s kick or Dak Prescott’s pass?

by | Jun 22, 2018 | Articles, Entertainment, The Team

During the 5-week break between the end of NFL minicamps and the start of Training Camps, many American football fans are focusing on international football (soccer) as the best players on the planet are gathered in Russia for World Cup 2018. 

Hopefully you’re enjoying the matches as players like Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) take center stage.  But how does the speed of a ball kicked by the best goal-scorer in the world compare with the speed of the ball in American football?

Tom Pennington via Getty Images

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw a football 52 mph during the 2016 NFL Combine, according to OurLads’ NFL Scouting Services.  Dak threw the 11thfastest pass that year.  The fastest throw at the 2016 Combine was by Paxton Lynch (59 mph), followed closely by Jared Goff (58 mph) and Carson Wentz (57 mph).

Those are impressive numbers and NFL quarterbacks obviously have strong arms.  At this year’s NFL Combine, Josh Allen topped the OurLads’ list with a 62mph pass; Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield was close behind at 60mph.

But throwing a football can’t compete with kicking a soccer ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the star for Portugal, can effortlessly strike a ball 80 mph.  In the documentary “Castrol Edge Presents Ronaldo Tested to the Limit”, Ronaldo easily shatters glass panels from 20-meters distance with his 80 mph kicks (130 kilometers per hour).

Matthias Schrader via AP Images

There’s also the famous Ronaldo story from a game where his club team, Real Madrid, played as a friendly in London against Bournemouth.  Ronaldo fired a 35-yard free kick that went wide of the goal…and broke the wrist of 11-year old Charlie Silverwood who was sitting in the stands next to his father.

Charlie’s wrist was broken in two places.  He was a trooper, however.  He stayed through the end of the match, after which Bournemouth gave him a signed ball and a signed Real Madrid shirt.

Ronaldo is regarded, along with Lionel Messi of Argentina, as the best goal scorer in the world.  And like a quarterback, speed is not always the name of the game.  A quarterback, as well as a soccer player, relies on accuracy, or sometimes touch, not just velocity.

When it comes to pure speed, GuinessWorldRecords.com records the ‘fastest shot on goal’ during an English Premier League game at 114mph (183 kilometers per hour) by David Hirst, playing for Sheffield Wednesday during a match against Arsenal in London on September 16, 1996.  Hirst got the Guinness record, but not the goal because the ball hit the crossbar from 44 feet out and bounced back into the field of play.

If you keep looking on-line, you can find other sites with kicks reported to be faster than what is recorded by Guinness World Records.

HITC.com lists “The Five Fastest Shots Ever Recorded in Football” as: Ronny Heberson (Sporting Lisbon) with a 131 mph kick in 2006; David Hirst (Sheffield Wednesday) with the 114 mph kick in 1996 recorded by GuinnessWorld Records; David Beckham (Manchester United) with a 97.9 mph shot versus Chelsea in 1997; David Trezeguet (AS Monaco) at 96 mph versus Manchester United in 1998; and Ritchie Humphreys of Sheffield Wednesday with a 95.9 mph blast on opening day 1996 versus Aston Villa.

The speed of international football is mind-boggling! 

NFL kickers obviously have strong legs, but the shape of an NFL football, a prolate spheroid, allows the ball to the thrown in the air in a spiral.  The shape (yes, prolate spheroid is a geometrical term) isn’t as conducive for kickers.

Dan Bailey, the Cowboys kicker, played soccer as a youth.  During training camp in Oxnard, I propose we borrow a radar gun and a soccer ball and see how Bailey’s leg strength and technique compares to the velocity of kicks by players in the World Cup.