Win the first header

This game is all about winning the first header and directing it to your team-mate. If your players can get control of the ball in the air then it makes it easier to repel opponents and start an attack.

Set up

Set up an area of 20×20 yards split into two 10×20-yard areas. Each area has a target goal and two servers. We’ve used 12 players in this session.

How to play

In the centre of each area is a 2v2. The servers alternate to throw the ball into the middle of the players. Immediately one ball goes out, the next is thrown in so the 2v2 is fast and furious with balls coming in the air quickly. The teams need to try to beat their opponents to the first header to either get it on target for a goal or pass to a team-mate to score.


This is a fun game to get players duelling in the air. Because of the distance and number of players, it’s a good session to take the fear out of heading. The throw means the ball will not be difficult to head but it is important that young defenders understand the need to head the ball in the right direction before the attackers do.

Heading technique

    1. Play is started by one of the servers throwing into the centre. The servers take turns to throw the ball
    2. It is important players try to get their heads on the ball before an opponent reaches it

    3. The session is a fast one and players soon tire and leave gaps, so swap pairs around every minute
    4. A great first time header catches the opposition sleeping and not looking around them

    5. Move the servers across into opposite corners to vary the angle the ball is served from
    6. Here the players are caught out by the quickness of the session and marking is not tight, allowing a goal
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