I bet you’re saying to yourself:
It’s SUPER tough to head a soccer ball.
Is it, really?
You can improve your soccer heading technique dramatically if you just learn a few simple lessons the right way…
… and you’ll be heading like a pro in no time.
In this post, I am going to teach you those lessons and everything else you need to know and add to your soccer training routines.
Let’s get started!
Heading In Soccer
The game of soccer (or football, for some of you out there) has changed a lot over the years.
While the art of heading might not be quite as important as it once was, it is still not going away anytime soon.
Despite new limitations on heading and an emphasis on safety and concussion prevention being right at the top of the list for parents and coaches alike, learning how to head a soccer ball is still crucial.
This article will teach you how to head a soccer ball properly, safely and with power.
We’ll teach you about the different types of headers, how to head a soccer ball without it hurting or getting a headache and show you how to overcome fears of being injured!
How to Properly Head a Soccer Ball
The first step we must take on our journey to learning how to head a soccer ball properly is to understand what area of your head is the right one to head the ball from.
It’s a very important lesson and it will go a long, long way to helping you prevent injuries and headaches.
The place you’ll want to head the ball is directly on the center of your forehead.
It might sound painful and it will be a new experience for players that are just starting out, but this is, by far, the safest place to head the ball.
Your forehead is the most cushioned area of your head, and it will give you the most protection possible.
Using the forehead is how you head the ball in order to stop yourself from getting a headache, or even worse, a concussion.
Many headaches can cause concussions so this is a serious thing to watch out for.
As the game has changed, it has become less of an issue.
However, it still is the preferred place to head the ball for the above reasons.
How to head a Soccer Ball with Power and Accuracy
Controlling the football is what the game of soccer is all about.
In fact, in 90% of the games you watch, regardless of the level of play, the team that controls the ball best, or the player that does so, is on the winning side of the equation.
If the above claim is true, then controlling the flight of the ball is what heading is all about.
If you are asking yourself “how to head a soccer ball with power and accuracy” then the answer is quite simple.
Use the area of your head that’s more suited to do it, (again) your forehead!
Heading the ball with your forehead gives you a huge advantage in that you can control the path of the ball much better.
Plus, you’ll be able to direct your header to wherever you’re aiming at much more easily.
No matter what type of header you are attempting to do, the forehead is just about the best way to control and direct the ball to your target. Your forehead will give your head shots the power and accuracy you’re looking for.
Let’s take a look at the types of headers to show you what we mean!
Types of Headers
When watching a high level of football, a viewer can quickly come to realize that there are many different kinds of headers that can help a team achieve its cause.
The most popular header is the clearing header.
In soccer, a clearance is when a team seeks to get out of an area of the field in which they are being pinned into by the opposition.
When a team is stuck in its own half, or worse in its own box like when defending a corner set piece for instance, they need to find a way out of trouble.
This is where the clearing header comes in.
Because the ball starts in the air, a clearing header is able to move it over the top of the attacking team, thus clearing out all the danger.
The reason that this is the most popular option is simply because it is the one that is most seen in matches, at least at the higher levels of play, and is the most effective one when defending.
The attacking header differs a lot from the clearing header in that a team is attempting to score by using it, rather than to defend its goal.
This can take the form of many shapes, but generally it happens from a position where someone is crossing the ball.
A cross is a play where a footballer kicks the ball from one side of the field toward either the box in the middle, or the other side of the field next to the box.
Generally, crosses are done by putting the ball flying in the air so that attackers can score with their heads.
(The other kind of crosses for attacking situations, the grounded cross, is done along the ground so that attackers can score with their feet.)
For our purposes, it is definitely in the air as no one wants to dive on the floor head first!
This type of header generally has more power on it and is directed straight down (rather than into the air which is what you would do to alleviate pressure on your team while defending).
Heading it straight down it will make it bounce off the ground making it harder for the goalkeeper to stop it.
A glancing header is exactly what it sounds like:
You allow the ball to glance off of you.
The best way to describe this is allowing the ball to slide off of you.
It’s very effective in situations where there are tight spaces; this can allow you to nudge the ball in front of you.
It can also be effective at getting the ball to a teammate in any direction.
A glancing header can be done with the top of the head, the side, or the forehead and is less about torquing your neck, so this can be done without hurting you much.
You’re (almost) just cushioning the football as you let it gently fall on your head and redirect its movement to a different path.
How to Head a Soccer Ball without It Hurting You
We’ve referred multiple times already that using your forehead is your safest approach to heading in soccer.
Plus, if you’re really looking for how to safely head a soccer ball, remember the number one rule I’ve learned from sports over the years, if you think you’re going to get hurt, you will.
No one likes to get hurt, and this is a big part of playing sports.
But the key to never getting hurt on the field is to do everything 100%.
If you hold back with a header, you are going to get hurt more than you otherwise would.
If you are going to attempt to head the ball, you have to go all out for it and make a valiant effort.
If you don’t attack the soccer ball, you are letting it hit you.
And if you don’t line up correctly, it’s going to hurt even worse!
Don’t let your fears stop you halfway, because that most often backfires on you.
So attack the ball, use your forehead, and give it your all!
99% of the time you will come away fine!
Rules & Regulations for Coaches (& Players)
There is a whole lot to heading a soccer ball.
But there is even more here that we need to point out.
In addition to showing your players how to head a soccer ball, you must know the rules and regulations surrounding headers at your specific age group.
Rules are changing quickly, and the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) are laying down markers that prevent heading from causing permanent damage to players.
They are making heading illegal at certain age groups, and they are reducing the number of headers that other ages may perform. (Many people are even saying that FIFA needs to ban heading from soccer as a whole.)
It’s very important that you know the rules of the league, and that you follow them strictly.
This is for everyone’s benefit.
If you are allowed to head, teach them the right way and keep them safe!
In this post, we’ve told you about the different kinds of headers, how to do it safely and discussed some of changes in terms of rules and regulations that will most probably shape soccer in the coming years.
Even so, heading is still very important in the game of soccer.
So learning how to properly head a soccer ball with the right amount of control technique, power and accuracy without it hurting you is an essential part of any player’s training routine.