Heading the Ball in  Soccer Football
29th September 2011

Heading is one of the most important skills to master in football. Every player in a match will have the opportunity to head the ball, even a goal-keeper sometimes. Sadly it is one of the most neglected parts of a footballers amoury. 

John Terry HeaderThe ability to head a ball well, with confidence, will turn an average player into a good one and will be an asset to any team. Back in the 50s & 60s footballs were very heavy, made of hard leather and had protruding laces, though today's balls are much lighter, made of softer materials and can be headed without fear of causing damage to the head or brain.  

It's usually only in small sided games, futsal or 5-a-side where the ball so played exclusively on the ground,  so being able to head the ball in any other format of the game is essential.   Happily heading a ball is a technique that can be perfected with practice. You don't have to be over six foot tall to be good at heading  the ball, though at times there is an advantage to being taller. Heading is as much about position and timing as it is about being tall or short.  

A good way to improve your confidence and improve your technique is to try to do as many headers to and from a partner without the ball touching the ground. you can also see how many times you can head the ball against a wall before it bounces on the ground.

How to head the ball Use the top of your forehead, not the top of your head, to make a good header. Always keep your eyes open. A common,  though natural, mistake for young players is to close their eyes when the ball comes towards the head. Doing this means  it is unlikely that the header will be coordinated and the ball will go anywhere, if it's headed at all.  

You also need to get you neck muscles right. Loose muscles allow you to cushion and control the ball better, though with less power. Strong neck muscles behind your head and the ball can travel a long distance with pace.  

The golden rule when heading the ball is to head the ball up in the air when defending and down to the ground when  attacking.

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