When it comes to being successful on the football field, knowing how to head a ball and do it well is a really useful skill to have.
Young players can often be wary of heading the ball when first learning the game. It’s not surprising really, a football to the head can come as quite a shock if you’re not expecting it!
That’s why it’s important to take it slowly in the first few stages of training and to ensure that a child is old enough and confident enough to cope with learning to head a ball.
If you’re looking to improve your youth football team’s heading skills, then there are several factors that you can take into consideration to ensure they develop good habits that become natural to them as they continue to develop their game.
Building up a young players confidence in their ability to head a football is key initially. Get it wrong at an early stage and you run the risk of making matters worse for a child. Launching a ball at a child’s head the first time they practice their headers, introducing opposition too soon or beginning to head a ball from too far away can all be damaging to a player’s confidence when they first start out, potentially even putting them off the game altogether.
So, the key is to start slowly, by perhaps starting with a softer ball and encouraging the player to gently throw it up in the air themselves and head it on their forehead. It’s natural for beginners to feel nervous at first, so improve their confidence by taking it steady.
Hone your technique
As the player gets more confident in heading the ball you can start to look at improving their technique. When initially focusing on technique, players should be encouraged to keep their eyes open, watch the ball and only head it with their forehead. They can also practice the best positions to stand in and what to do with the rest of your body while you head it. They’ll eventually become familiar with the action required to head a ball with repetition of the correct technique.
Once the basics are mastered, you can develop specific skills for heading the ball in different situations, such as heading the ball towards the ground when in an attacking goal scoring position, or heading the ball on a higher trajectory to generate more distance when clearing in a defensive position. There are many football heading drills which are available online to assist coaches as you work with your players develop their heading. Players can pair up and see how more times in a row they can head the ball to a partner, who stands progressively further and further away. Head tennis is another great fun drill that can be used to develop your player heading ability.
Book your team into a competition
If you feel that your young players are ready to compete in a tournament against other teams from across the UK, then you can join us for a great end of season tour at the ESF Festival of Football. Our football tournaments are open to youth teams of all ages and abilities. Find out more about the ESF Festival of Football and how you can be a part of it today. You may find our blog about The Benefits of Playing Youth Football useful too.