Players shouldn’t be scared of heading a soccer ball. Use these tips and soccer drills to get them used to doing it and build up their confidence so they can do it in matches.
Tips for young players
Most cases of concussion in soccer are from heads clashing rather than from heading the ball. From under-4s right through to under-16s, your players need to practise heading. Young players from under-4s through to under-7s should practise heading by throwing the ball in the air, letting it bounce on the ground once, then trying to head the ball forward, not up again.
The grass takes a lot of the power out of the ball, and they are heading the ball from a much lower height. This heading soccer drill develops good judgement of a ball from the bounce, and confidence that the ball will not hurt them as they learn the skill.
Get your players into pairs with one player as the server and the other the header. The header must start by kneeling up with his arms by his sides.
The server throws the ball and the player dives forward to head the ball, follow through and end up on his arms.
Tell your players to try to contact the ball and not let it contact them, and hit it on the hard part of their head using their whole body to follow through.
Heading the ball backwards drill
You can also use this fun soccer drill to help with the back header, which is important at corners when your players are trying to head the ball on. It also gets them used to flicking the ball on when it is banging around in mid-air. I like this soccer coaching drill because it gets the players involved in team work as well as being enjoyable. They are going to try to head the ball back along the line and the aim is to see which team can get it from front to back quickest.
Key soccer coaching tip: Keep header drill sessions short but make sure you repeat the soccer drills often.
Heading is an activity you don’t want to do for too long, especially with a younger player, but you do want to make sure they are comfortable with it, and that it is something they are not afraid of because it is a very important part of the game.
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