Today we’re going over 10 things based on the last several blog posts. Let’s see if you know the answers to the test of the chest. Growing up I didn’t know this stuff. Players who learn these things play better soccer because they can win more battles vs players who don’t know. Winning the individual battles is what makes us who we are as players. The small details can separate players in terms of soccer performance and knowledge.
20 tips on heading the soccer ball + video ↓
One of the best ways to protect more soccer players from concussion is by teaching, learning and practicing the right and many ways to head the ball.
- 1) Head the ball up using the hairline.
- 2) Head on the middle of the forehead to get the ball down.
- 3) Redirect by turning your head and using the corner of the hairline
- 4) Redirect by opening up your body and connecting on the middle of the hairline or the middle of the forehead, depending on if you want to get the ball high or low.
- 5) Flicking the ball on with the top middle of head to make it go straight back.
- 6) Flicking the ball on with the top/side of head to make it slightly redirect.
- 7) Never use the top of the head to head it back where it came from. Only use the top to flick it on 8) Jumping at your highest point while heading, not during take off
- 9) Bending down low to flick a ball on
- 10) Challenging 2 touch skill drill, which is more for developing a good first touch when you need to trap the ball with your head
- 11) Arms out (hands/wrist) the widest part, not your elbows. Protect yourself and others this way.
- 12) Follow through when attacking the ball, meaning you hit it – don’t let the ball hit you.
- 13) Practice not only with the right foot in front, but also the left. This way when you are going right or left to get behind the ball you are used to it.
- 14) Never let the ball hit you on the temple
- 15) Younger players can practice using a Volleyball. This way you can get more reps and not take as much ball weight to the head/brain. Also some kids are nervous to head and so using the volleyball doesn’t hurt at all and it’s actually fun for the younger players.
- 16) US soccer doesn’t allow kids under 10 to head in practice or games. Parents can practice using a volleyball and standing only a few feet away to teach younger players.
- 17) Behind American football, girls soccer ages 13+ have the most concussions.
- 18) Concussions are very serious, so parents, players and coaches need to be honest and communicate.
- 19) 3 concussions in soccer and they say you should not play anymore.
- 20) Keep your eyes open as long as you can, because they will eventually close and protect themselves.
Learn when to head or chest the ball ↓
Fun at Home Bonus Challenge for parents & players to take the quiz below separately.
See WHO gets the most correct answers. NOTE: Elementary age kids probably won’t know this. But go ahead and teach them.
If you are in middle school, high school or are an aspiring pro player, this test will challenge you.
People who want to learn more put themselves in a better situation going forward.
Head or Chest Soccer Quiz
- If you’re in the middle third of the field, with no teammates close to you, & the ball is coming at your face, what do you do? (put your chin down & head it or do you jump up to chest?)
- If you’re a right-footed player, & you want to keep the ball at your feet after your first touch with your chest, how are you going to angle/turn your body with the chest? ⚽
- If you’re back-pedaling & you’re off-balance, & no one is around you, the ball is coming at you in the air – do you chest it up or down? ↑ ↓
- If you’re a striker / forward, playing with your back to the goal [facing away from the goal you are trying to score on] in the attacking third, & there is not a defender behind you – how do you position your body & where do you go with your first touch?
- If the pressure is high (defender on you) & the ball comes at your chest, do you chest it up or down?
- If you are a defender, just on top or in your own 18, (& let’s say there is a ball that takes a big bounce) & you don’t have enough time to get the ball down to play, you have to instead 1-touch – do you clear the ball or chest/head it to your goalie?
- If the ball is coming at your stomach, do you drop low & try to chest it or do you step back and let it hit your thigh?
- If you’re a goal keeper & an easy ball comes at you in the air with no pressure. Also when your team is winning with less than 5 minutes to go, do you chest the ball or catch it?
- What part of your arms need to be the widest part of your body? Your elbows or your wrists?
- If you’re a forward, playing with your back to the goal, & you want to 1-touch the ball to your midfielder who is running in front of you – what part of the chest are you most often going to use?
- Jump up and chest the ball because you have a greater chance to keep possession of the ball.
- You will turn your body slightly to the right, so that the ball falls down to your dominant foot.
- Up, because if you trap it down while you are backpedaling most likely a nearby defender will be able to beat you to the ball. But if you chest the ball up while in this movement you will be able to regain your balance before the ball ever comes down and your 2nd touch can be settled in front of you or you can pass the ball off to a teammate or to yourself in the space.
- You turn your body, while the ball is traveling to you, so that your first touch allows the ball to be between you and the goal. Then you can take a shot on your 2nd touch (like James Rodriguez in the World Cup, earning him Golden Goal -Best goal of the WC). Note this video is on our previous post.
- Chest it down because you can quickly get the ball to your feet so you can dribble, pass or shoot.
- You chest or head it to your goalie because if you chest or head the ball to your goalie this is the only time they can use their hands. Also if you just clear the ball you are likely to lose possession, especially if your team is not balanced. So if you chest the ball to your goalie, who can then handle the ball, your team has more options to create a better attack.
- Most of the time you will not bend down to chest the ball, instead you can just let it hit you in the stomach or if you have time you can jump or back up to settle on your thigh or foot.
- You chest it so that way you can waste some time on the clock and once a defender comes to put pressure you can pick the ball up with your hands.
- Your wrist will be a little further out than your elbows because you don’t want to elbow a player and you also want to use your forearms to shield another player away.
- Most of the time you will use the part of the chest in the middle (Sternum) because this part of your chest you can make it bounce off you further which makes for a better chest pass.
New header rule for kids under 11 years old
With the new header rule where kids ages 10-11 and under are not allowed to head the ball in practice or games.
If they do head the ball in a game, it results in a free kick for the other team. I am glad they are really taking action with headers in soccer.
Hope the rules will change from where they stand. The select teams / clubs should be required to have the players practice all the many different ways to head a ball.
Ages 10-13 should have to spend 15 mins per month at least on this. Using a ball that is very light similar to a volleyball is important.
Practicing headers for ages 10+
If you don’t practice these things at the young ages of 10-12, then how will you be good at heading when you are 13+ years old?
Ages 13-16 is when most girl soccer players get concussions. So the younger ages need to be practicing this skill. You can either get a private trainer or work on your own.
I think at this age of 10-12 players should have to practice all the ways to head at least once a month with their teams.
For now I can guarantee you that club coaches are not working on all these different ways to head.
I also think that using volleyballs at this younger age of 10-12 is smart.
For one kids won’t feel scared to head and will actually learn more because they are eager to do it, which helps them to do it the right ways.
How you can practice at home
Get your friends or family together to train on this 1 or 2 times a month.
The time adds up and players benefit greatly from the training experiences.
Use 1 ball and under hand toss the ball to the person who will head the ball.
The person receiving the ball will head it to the 3rd person who will then catch it.
The 3rd person will then toss the ball and the player heading will go back and forth, heading 10 times total. Then switch and let the next person go.
Get started now with my ball control homework program
How can younger players practice headers?
In groups of 2 & 3 players using 1 very light ball.
For younger soccer players ages 8-10 I use volleyballs or flat balls because they are so soft and light.
Ages 6-7 don’t need to even worry about practicing this.
This allows them to improve much faster, because they are not fearful of heading a hard ball. Nobody likes to head hard balls trust me.
To improve at something you need to be close together and make the skill as easy as possible.
This way the players get high reps and feel good about it.
Players who are successful in drills improve faster because they feel goo about their performance.
Players who perform bad shut down and stop trying as hard.
You want the players to start off doing well so they not only improve, but know they can do it.
I get the players about 3 yards apart to allow them to get more reps, proper tosses and headers without it hurting or being scary for the player.
Smart and fearless soccer players
Being educated and trained is the key. Knowing how to properly head the ball ALL the MANY ways is vital to decrease header injuries.
Also knowing when to go up for a header is just as important.
There are times where 2 players go up for a header and one of the players is not aware of the other one.
Then in mid air they collide, causing injury…
Some coaches tell their players to go up for every single header, when you shouldn’t. If you go up for every header, you will get injured. Play smart.
Watch the English Premier League which is the top 2 highest leagues in the world, and #1 most physical out of the top leagues.
Every week you see players not going up in certain situations. If you see a player going up reckless and not aware of you, maybe you don’t go up. Sometimes you have to let a player win that battle in the air. Be aware!
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