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The latest guidance on heading can be found here.


You can still use the usual session ideas when practising heading. This includes:

  • improving players’ judgement of high balls
  • key movement skills
  • using their body as a barrier
  • scanning for their team and the opposition.

You might want to use lighter or sponge balls when including heading practices. This helps players get used to the ball’s contact with their heads. The lighter ball minimises the load on their bodies. It also allows them to get used to the techniques needed to defend, pass, or score with their head. When first introducing how to head the ball, players should practise headers unopposed, in line with training guidance.

It can also be beneficial to include neck-strengthening exercises in training. Research shows these exercises can help prepare players to head the ball.

There's different guidance for heading depending on how old your players are. You can find the latest information here.

There may be a slight increase in heading as it starts to be introduced, but it remains a low priority. Other key skills, focused on retaining and loving the ball, are seen more often in the game at this age.

As players get older, their knowledge of the game and physical strength develops. This leads to a more visible tactical use of restarts, resulting in more headers. This means players will use different skills, including:

  • judging and adjusting to the flight of the ball
  • attacking the ball at the optimum point
  • head and ball contact to control direction and distance.

As players start using different heading types, consider introducing position-specific movement patterns.

When introducing heading it’s important to be aware of your players’ individual needs, especially if you coach disabled footballers. For example, people with Down’s syndrome are more likely to have underlying neck instability and so should never head the ball. Speak to your players and their parents or carers before introducing heading practices.