Can heading a football cause you head injuries? Are there any drills to head a football that might help with avoiding a head injuries? Two important questions that need looking into.
This is a subject that seems to be getting more and more news columns by the week.
Why is this so? We all know that it is not good to continually take knocks to the head. It’s time to ask the question can heading a football cause you head injuries?
Heading a football is a massive part of any football match and practice sessions.
With so many people involved in football it has started to be a concern that long term football head injuries may be a problem to football players.
What is being done about this?
Is heading a football still allowed?
Are there ways to head a ball correctly to stop this from happening?
Lets explore this subject and find out if heading injuries in football are real or not?
Knocks To The Brain
Heading is a common technique that is used by players in every match. Heading is one way of controlling the ball. Players can pass, shoot or clear the ball with their head. Goals are scored with headers and Defenders use headers to clear the ball away often during games. When the ball is in the air heading a ball becomes the only option as there is a law in football that says players can not use their hands. (except the goalkeeper)
Concerns have started to be raised over player safety from heading a football. This is due to the impact of the ball from its weight on the head and also the chance that players can collide with each other.
People who have multiple head head injuriies get something called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) also know as punch drunk syndrome.
CTE has symptons that may cause behavioural problems such as mood swings and problems with thinking.
These symptons do not begin for many years after the injuries. It can get worse over time, possible resulting in dementia. complications with dementia can cause aggression, depression and possible suicidal bahaviour.
If this is the case what is being done about it?
Changing the rules in some sports has been discussed as a means of preventing this.
U.S. Soccer has already taken actions in eliminating heading for children 10 and under, and also limiting the amount of heading in practice between the ages of 11 and 13.
We may see more Football Associations around the world take similar prevention methods as more research is done on this subject.
What about the use of protective head gear? (like they use in other sports i.e Rugby) Could these be introduced to reduce risk of head injuries?
As player safety becomes more prevelant for all Football Associations, more research is definitely needed on this subject.
Putting Your Head On It
Football is the only contact sport with the purpose of using the head for controlling the ball. Many Coaches and books inform players to avoid heading a football under the age of 12, with some even saying wait until 14 years. Due to the Younger soccer players having weaker neck muscles, being a smaller size, and having a less skillfull heading technique, they may be at greater risk of injury.
Therefore proper heading technique may be a footballers greatest defense against injury from heading a ball.
If a player sustains a head injury during a match, the decision on that injury is supposed to rest with the team doctor, and according to all guidelines, should not be taken by the player.
A player is more likley to get a severe head injury from a collision with another player (clash of heads) or from an elbow in the face. Referees have been told to clap down on players jumping with their arms up. This is concidered dangerous play and could result in a red card.
Are women are more at risk than men?
There are about 30 million women and girls playing football throught the world today and recent studies show that they may be more vulnerable than men. why is this?
Traumatic brain injuries , including concussions affect women differently. They take longer to recover from the traumatic brain injury, they report more concussions to men in similar sports. Could it be because that the hormones differ or the make up of the neck and upper bodies differ from men?
More studies are needed but it is clear from the studies so far the different sexes need to be looked at individually, they can no longer be treated the same.
5 Drills To Head A Ball Correctly
Always look at the ball: The biggest problem most players have before they begin is they fear heading a ball. In their mind they have the thoughts it’s going to hurt. This needs changing straight away. Think something like “if i go for it I am in control let me attack the ball now”. Looking at the ball means you will be in control of the header. You can send the ball in the direction that you want it to go in.
1. Plant your feet: Make sure you have a solid base to head the ball from. If it’s not needed to jump at the ball then make sure you are balanced and ready to head the ball.
2. Bend your knees: As the ball is coming in your direction bend at the knees. This will give you a bit of momentum when you start to move up and foward towards the ball.
3. Lean back: Next movement is to lean back slightly. This is a gentle movement backwards. Mantain your balance be in control at all times, you dont want to fall over backwards.
4. Jump: If needed: on many occasions a jump will be required. To get yourself above the opposition player to win the ball. push yourself off the ground as fast as you can. Heading the ball in the air is all about timing. Making sure you are in the air at the point when the ball reaches you.
5. Quick forward movement of the head: This will generate the power for you. The faster you move your head towards the ball, the faster it moves away from you. Try to use the forehead when heading, it is the strongest part of the head.
The thing is heading is a vital part of the game. It is used in both Defending and Attacking the ball.
The simple answer is no. If you want to learn how to play football, it is a skill you must learn. That is why learning the correct technique from the begining is so important.
Master this skill and change your mind to be in control of heading the ball.
As an outfield player you are not allowed to use your hands, so heading a ball is a part of the body you must use.
Can you add your name to the list and become the next best at heading like some of the greats?
Here are but a few to check out who were fantastic headers of a ball Alan Shearer, Robin Van Persie, Henrik Larsson, Luis Suarez, Christiano Ronaldo. (the list is long) Can you think of anyone who is a great?
The simple header
How can this simple thing like a header cause so much debate?
Player safety is everything these days, so it should be talked about if football heading may cause a problem in later life.
Research has been done and is ongoing to find out if long term head injuries are caused by heading a football. From what I can gather is the evidence from the research is inconclusive as it only happens many years later, thats why more research is needed. It can’t be good to have a little bang on your head every time you head a ball. Think about how many times a player heads a ball per match?.
You are more likely to get serious damage if you go up for a header and clash heads or get an elbow to the head from another player.
I do think it is right that they stop or even limit heading in younger players, sometimes prevention is good before serious damage can be done.
I for one dont want it banned from the game totally. Heading the ball is a fantastic skill. Think about when your teams player attacks a corner, gets up higher than their opponent and wins a header to score that winning goal for your team. I bet you will be loving that header, with no thought of it ever being removed from the game.
Any questions about this?
Please leave your comments below and get involved with this discussion.