Winning the ball in the air is one of the key skills for any defender. This simple exercise can teach your players the basics of heading.

Why use it

It could be the last minute of a match and your team needs to prevent a goal from being scored. But without being able to head the ball, your players are more likely to concede than score. Heading is a crucial part of defending so get the basics right.

Set up

Split your players into groups of three with one ball per group.

How to do it

This is a simple throw, head and catch game but players have to move from one side of the pitch to the other without the ball bouncing. Players must head in sequence so that the same player is not heading the ball every time. Get the teams of three to race each other but they are not allowed to run.


Players are having to head the ball to a target, which helps them to focus on heading in the right direction. Moving together in competition with the other teams adds pressure, making it more realistic to heading in matches and give different distances to head the ball.

Heading for U12 and above

    1. Position players 10 yards apart for a ‘throw, head, catch’ sequence
    2. Players must try and direct the ball in the right direction and the right distance

Who can head the longest?

    3. Moving from one side of the pitch to the other without running and with a heading sequence so each player takes it in turn to head
    4. By making it a race between three or four teams the added pressure makes heading more realistic

Heads you win

    5. If the header is dropped or doesn’t reach its target the team must go back to the start
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