EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Head to score

Learning how to improve your players’ heading technique when attacking will bring a greater threat of goals. The practices here focus on technique then progress into how players can implement them in game situations.

What this session is about

  1. Heading to score.
  2. Scoring from crosses.
  3. Movement to lose defenders.

What to think about

Heading is often a neglected part of youth coaching. This leads to a high number of young players not being able to head the ball with good technique or accuracy and can lead to some players not enjoying heading because of the fear of pain.

This means practising heading techniques in a fun and enjoyable way is essential to developing confidence and improving technique.

When developing attacking headers, players must keep their eyes on the ball and head the ball with a closed mouth, contact should be made with the forehead and, by heading the top half of the ball, players will be able to direct the ball to the ground – making it more difficult for the keeper to save.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10-15 minutes10-15 minutes10-15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Line your players up in two queues, one on each side of the area, as shown in the top picture.

Each queue/team takes turns at serving and heading to score. Players serve the ball diagonally in the air to the attacker opposite, this attacker runs on to the serve and heads it to try and score. This practice works in a continuous motion and the first team to score five goals wins.

Teams alternate taking turns to serve and to head to score.

Teams alternate taking turns to serve and to head to score.


Development

Play another heading exercise. In our example, we have used seven-a-side (including keepers) but you can adjust this according to the size of your squad.

Each team has two crossing players outside the pitch.

Start the practice by calling out the name of the player to cross the first ball. Players must quickly react to this call and attack or defend the goal.

Encourage attackers to be creative in their movement to lose defenders and find space to head and score. For example, run back then forward to shake off the defender.

After the attack or clearance, call the next crosser to begin. The offside rule applies in this game. Change the crossers regularly so everyone can have a go at heading the ball in an attacking scenario.

The players must react and try to score or defend from the cross.

The players must react and try to score or defend from the cross.


Game situation

Mark out an area with a goal at each end and play a small-sided game.

Each team has two defenders, two attackers and two wide players – that stay within their marked zones.

To start, the keeper throws the ball to a wide player who dribbles down the line and crosses the ball into the box, as shown in the bottom picture.

Attackers and the opposite wide player attempt to score from the cross against the two defenders by creating a 3v2.

The next attack starts with a throw from the goalkeeper in the opposite direction. Rotate the players from defenders to crossers to attackers after five minutes. The offside rule applies and the team that scores most goals wins.

The goalkeeper throws out wide to start a fast break to score.

The goalkeeper throws out wide to start a fast break to score.


What to call out

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