Improve player defensive heading

If you want your players to intercept those high attacking balls in the box and direct them to safety, this exercise will improve their defensive heading

Why use it

Heading makes all the difference in defending situations but it’s a skill that has to be worked at. This activity will help players improve the timing and direction of their headed clearances by giving them plenty of chances to practice.

Set up

Use a 40×20 yard area with goals at either end. Play 3v3 plus two keepers, with four servers (two for each team) standing to the side of the playing area.

How to play

Play a normal game but the ball must go to a server on each attack. Servers throw the ball into the attacking area and defenders try to repel the ball with their heads. The serves need to be accurate to help the success of the game. Add throwing points so the ball comes to the players from different angles.


Timing a jump is important for heading the ball, as is using the forehead rather than the top of the head. Work on direction too. If players are finding it hard, nominate only defenders to head it for a few minutes (and then only attackers if you want to work on their attacking heading too).

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