Heading - an Essential Skill
1/7/2009 8:47:02 PM
Heading is an essential skill to learn in soccer. It is crucial for defensive players to clear balls from the back, midfielders to win critical battles in the middle of the field, and attackers to nod a ball past the opposing keeper to score a goal.
This is not as important of a skill for players under 8 years old since the ball rarely lifts off the ground, however, it has proven to be an important skill once the players reach 9 or 10 years old.
Technique for properly heading a ball:
- Contact with the ball should be made on the forehead between the eyebrows and the hairline.
- Ball must be struck and not bounce off the head
- Players must use muscles in their back and stomach to approach the ball
- Back slightly arched as ball approaches, slightly leaning forward after striking the ball
- Neck must be stiff, younger players can be taught to tuck their chin towards their chest to stiffen the neck
- Head moves toward the ball
- Eyes must remain open and on the approaching ball
- Timing is essential
- For balance, knees must be slightly bent
The attacking header techniques are much different than the defensive header techniques. When defending, the purpose of headers is to clear the ball UP and AWAY from an opponent heading the ball from the defensive situation and clear the ball from opponents. Heading a ball high gives other defenders time to reorganize defensively; heading the ball far denies an immediate threat on goal as does heading the ball wide. However, when attacking, the focus is on heading the ball downward towards the goal line to score a goal. We want players to head the ball down towards the goal line because this is the most difficult spot for goalkeepers to defend.
Defensive Headers Techniques
To direct the ball upward players should get their forehead and eyes under the ball and more upward through the ball as soon as contact is made with the ball. Players should use their legs to push the up and through the ball. The emphasis on defensive headers is height, distance and width.
Attacking Headers Techniques
Offensive heading places an emphasis on accuracy finding the open area for a gosl. Attackers should be taught to get the forehead and eyes over the ball so attacker is able to drive ball downward.
Here are some exercises to work on heading the ball:
- Juggle the ball with the head only
- Header sit-ups. Player does sit-up as partner tosses a ball to them and heads ball back to server.
- Tossing a serve to a partner and heading the ball back to the server. Focus on defensive or offensive headers.
- Partners heading the ball back and forth to one another. Coaches can make it more complex by making players move in a particular direction.
- Tossing a high serve to a partner and making them jump and return the ball to the server. Add passive defensive pressure.
Heading - an Essential Skill
Heading in Soccer, Defensive Header, Offensive Header, Essential Skill in Soccer