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FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban #733594 02/25/20 12:00 PM
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Changes to the guidelines for coaches of primary school children advising them not to include heading in their training are not intended as a blanket ban, says Les Howie, head of grassroots coaching at the FA.

The football associations of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday announced they were implementing the changes to reduce health risks. They come as a result of a FIELD study, joint-funded by the English FA and the PFA, which was published in October.

The study found professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population.

It did not identify the cause of the increased risk, but repeated heading of the ball was found to be a likely factor.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Howie explained: "I think there's lots of myths out there. This is not a ban on heading. This is about guidance to support our volunteer coaches, who do a fantastic job introducing children to the game.

"When you look at mini soccer, you will see on average one, two, three headers a game. So why spend a lot of time in training practising a skill we rarely see?"

Under the new guidelines, while heading in training for children at U11 level and below will be discouraged, it will still be permitted in matches due to the low amount of headers that occur in those games.

The FAs implemented the changes after consultation with UEFA, which is expected to offer Europe-wide guidance on the issue later this year.

Howie said: "I think what we've demonstrated on this is real leadership in giving the game some guidance on what is the best way to introduce heading.

"There will be some people out there who I absolutely get will think we've been over cautious, we've went too far, it's 'PC gone mad'; it's not.

"This is a balanced, measured response for what the modern game looks like.

"I'd love to be here in three years' time, when the next lot of research is out, and say, 'you know what, we were over cautious'.

"But I'd rather be apologising for being over cautious than apologising that we've not gone far enough."

Dawn Astle said she was "really pleased" with the changes. Her father Jeff Astle, who played for England and West Brom, died in 2002, with the coroner ruling it was as a result of repeated heading of footballs.

"We're all really pleased - it's sensible following the results of the FIELD study," she told the PA news agency. "We must take early steps to avoid exposing children's brains to risk of trauma and by saying there's no heading in training for primary school children is a really sensible way to make the game we all love safer for all those involved."

'A logical step, but more research needed'
Professor Willie Stewart, the lead academic on the FIELD study, welcomed the move but believes ultimately the game's governing bodies must go further.

He said: "I'm encouraged to see these changes being made in FA, SFA and NIFA youth football.

"A lot more research is needed to understand the factors contributing to increased risk of neurodegenerative disease in footballers. Meanwhile it is sensible to act to reduce exposure to the only recognised risk factor so far.

"As such, measures to reduce exposure to unnecessary head impacts and risk of head injury in sport are a logical step.

"I would, however, like to see these proposals introduced as mandatory, rather than voluntary at present, and a similar approach to reduce heading burden adopted in the wider game of football, not just in youth football."

'Should it be limited to children?'

The new guidelines were welcomed by Headway, the brain injury association, but it questioned why the ban should be limited to children.

"In light of the robust research conducted by the University of Glasgow linking football to degenerative neurological conditions, it seems entirely sensible to limit the number of times children are allowed to head footballs," said Peter McCabe, Headway chief executive.

"The question is, is this enough? Should it be limited to children?

"We cannot allow for key questions to remain unanswered, such as at what age is it safe to head a modern football - if at all? Neither can we afford to wait 30 years for the results of a longitudinal study to reveal the answers or hesitate to introduce other common sense measures that protect players - such as concussion substitutes.

"More and more research is now emerging showing differences in brain functioning immediately following football matches or heading practice.

"Football has to be willing to react to this growing body of evidence and not solely rely on dementia diagnoses when assessing the relative risks of heading footballs compared to the wider health benefits we know playing sports brings."

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Larry Miller] #733596 02/25/20 12:06 PM
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I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733614 02/25/20 03:50 PM
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I believe that the answer is you have properly licensed coaches/trainers who can properly tech the technique of heading a ball. I watch kids doing headers without any guidance or coaches caring. That is an important area where you need licensed trainers who know what they are doing. Also, I believe that headers should be eliminated in high school games. You have players who have never been taught jumping in the air and hurting other players because they have never been taught the proper technique. I have seen too many injuries in high school with players having no clue about timing there jump or properly hitting the ball with their head.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733616 02/25/20 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.


I’ve used inflated prophylactics. Commando size

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733619 02/25/20 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.


I’ve used inflated prophylactics. Commando size


We expect that post from a scum bag who would make that post on a youth sports site, and I agree with the commando size, which is needed for a big prick like you.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733639 02/25/20 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.


I've actually used balloons to introduce technique. Graduate to nerf balls, volleyballs, then traditional balls. We need to teach these things, not go so far the other way as to ban it. Cause if you can't teach it at 10, you sure as hell won't know how to teach it at 15. Can't there ever be a middle ground? This shows that these federations have no thinkers. Try training your trainers.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733656 02/26/20 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.


I've actually used balloons to introduce technique. Graduate to nerf balls, volleyballs, then traditional balls. We need to teach these things, not go so far the other way as to ban it. Cause if you can't teach it at 10, you sure as hell won't know how to teach it at 15. Can't there ever be a middle ground? This shows that these federations have no thinkers. Try training your trainers.


Agree with you. If I'm not mistaken, the ban was put in to help settle a lawsuit surrounding concussions with the USSF. The ban was put into effect without a common sense solution being implemented.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Larry Miller] #733659 02/26/20 12:34 PM
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there is absolutely zero reason to ban heading a ball in practice with the coach/trainer showing the proper technique,
This is always done from a short distance.
The problem obviously comes when you head the ball at the half line after a goalie punts it from the penalty area, yes it will rattle you no matter what age you are.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Larry Miller] #733670 02/26/20 02:21 PM
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I tell my kid (and he actually agrees with me smile ) heading the ball is a complete waste. Unless it is a goal scoring opportunity.
You are much better off trapping the ball with your chest and playing the ball at your feet. Almost all of the time, heading the ball forces a turnover in possession. (except maybe at the pro level, those guys no how to keep possession with great head passes).

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733673 02/26/20 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I tell my kid (and he actually agrees with me smile ) heading the ball is a complete waste. Unless it is a goal scoring opportunity.
You are much better off trapping the ball with your chest and playing the ball at your feet. Almost all of the time, heading the ball forces a turnover in possession. (except maybe at the pro level, those guys no how to keep possession with great head passes).


It actually depends on what position you play. Any defender who does not “head the ball” out of the back might as well find a new position. Coaches want those players to head the ball especially those balls into the box. I have seen players be indecisive and chest the ball and then get immediately substituted out of the game. Heading the ball is an intricate part of the game that’s why it should be taught properly by skilled trainers/coaches with high training licenses of “B” or better. Do you know such trainers on LI?

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733676 02/26/20 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I tell my kid (and he actually agrees with me smile ) heading the ball is a complete waste. Unless it is a goal scoring opportunity.
You are much better off trapping the ball with your chest and playing the ball at your feet. Almost all of the time, heading the ball forces a turnover in possession. (except maybe at the pro level, those guys no how to keep possession with great head passes).


What's a complete waste is heading the ball with no purpose. All players need to know how to head the ball properly and with purpose. If you can't do that then learn. If you can't learn you're going to limit yourself as a player and hurt your team. It would be wonderful if you could always trap the ball and get it to your feet but that is not possible in a game. I agree with the post above that heading is an intricate part of the game.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733687 02/26/20 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.


I've actually used balloons to introduce technique. Graduate to nerf balls, volleyballs, then traditional balls. We need to teach these things, not go so far the other way as to ban it. Cause if you can't teach it at 10, you sure as hell won't know how to teach it at 15. Can't there ever be a middle ground? This shows that these federations have no thinkers. Try training your trainers.


Agree with you. If I'm not mistaken, the ban was put in to help settle a lawsuit surrounding concussions with the USSF. The ban was put into effect without a common sense solution being implemented.



The ban? USSF? Did you read the OP or its title? We are talking about the UK FA, not the USSF and here's the meat of it from OP:
'The football associations of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday announced they were implementing the changes to reduce health risks. They come as a result of a FIELD study, joint-funded by the English FA and the PFA, which was published in October. The study found professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population'.
So that's heavy stuff dude. My own son is over six foot and has been heading the ball, a lot, for years. He heads well, with good technique yet still comes off the field sometimes, disoriented and with his ears ringing. He's had one serious concussion that put him in hospital and God knows how many sub-concussive hits. I love to watch him play but his college coach isn't giving him a firm spot this fall, they want him to 'keep in touch and try out again in August'. A big part of me hopes he doesn't. I would lay odds that in our lifetimes, there will be a new rule that you can head only in the box. Look how we are all panicking over this ridiculously insubstantial COVID19, yet here's clear proof that heading the ball a lot over an extended period gives you a higher chance of brain damage than COVID would have of killing you and no-one wants to hear it.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733704 02/27/20 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
I've trained younger kids to head using a volleyball. Much lighter and softer but they are learning the proper technique this way.


I've actually used balloons to introduce technique. Graduate to nerf balls, volleyballs, then traditional balls. We need to teach these things, not go so far the other way as to ban it. Cause if you can't teach it at 10, you sure as hell won't know how to teach it at 15. Can't there ever be a middle ground? This shows that these federations have no thinkers. Try training your trainers.


Agree with you. If I'm not mistaken, the ban was put in to help settle a lawsuit surrounding concussions with the USSF. The ban was put into effect without a common sense solution being implemented.



The ban? USSF? Did you read the OP or its title? We are talking about the UK FA, not the USSF and here's the meat of it from OP:
'The football associations of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday announced they were implementing the changes to reduce health risks. They come as a result of a FIELD study, joint-funded by the English FA and the PFA, which was published in October. The study found professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population'.
So that's heavy stuff dude. My own son is over six foot and has been heading the ball, a lot, for years. He heads well, with good technique yet still comes off the field sometimes, disoriented and with his ears ringing. He's had one serious concussion that put him in hospital and God knows how many sub-concussive hits. I love to watch him play but his college coach isn't giving him a firm spot this fall, they want him to 'keep in touch and try out again in August'. A big part of me hopes he doesn't. I would lay odds that in our lifetimes, there will be a new rule that you can head only in the box. Look how we are all panicking over this ridiculously insubstantial COVID19, yet here's clear proof that heading the ball a lot over an extended period gives you a higher chance of brain damage than COVID would have of killing you and no-one wants to hear it.

My apologies for my lack of clarity in my post. I was talking about the ban in the US as that is where I reside, coach/train and where my sons play. I'm aware of the UK, FA ban having read the material they published. I'm very thoughtful of the training of children learning to head the ball as well as when they suffer any type of head/neck/spine injury regardless of whether or not caused by the ball. Many people often ignore the fact that many concussions are caused not by the ball but rather hits to the back and hard falls to the ground. My oldest son suffered a minor concussion a few years ago when, as he put it, the kid just trucked me from behind. I'm truly sorry to hear about your son. I sincerely hope he can continue to play and lives a long and healthy life.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733716 02/27/20 01:14 PM
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For the most part we can agree that heading is an intricate part of playing soccer especially if your a defender. The problem at the local level is that there are not enough properly licensed trainers/coaches who have a high enough license to properly teach players the proper form or “art” of heading. I have seen enough “amateur club coaches” who line the players up and just watch the head the ball to each other. This is a problem. I can see why parents are afraid when there kids head the ball because of this inadequate training. I believe heading should not be allowed in high school a ad Heading in league club games should not be allowed till at least U13. Only then it should be allowed for games.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Larry Miller] #733720 02/27/20 02:08 PM
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where head gear!!!!! it is relatively inexpensive and should be part of the players equipment like shin guards...problem solved....does it make sense that its mandatory that shin guards be worn to prevent the sting of a little pain to your shin, but completely ignore protecting the head encase of a collision?

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733726 02/27/20 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
where head gear!!!!! it is relatively inexpensive and should be part of the players equipment like shin guards...problem solved....does it make sense that its mandatory that shin guards be worn to prevent the sting of a little pain to your shin, but completely ignore protecting the head encase of a collision?


Head gear is not going to prevent a concussion! It will help prevent a surface or skin injury but cannot stop a jolt to the brain or spinal system.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Larry Miller] #733727 02/27/20 05:55 PM
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Interesting....Googling this subject brings up alot...In the end there are many more articles that state No Helmet and/or head gear will prevent all concusions........But most all articles and studies conclude wearing any kind of protection is a lot better than wearing no protection at all....Now since we are talking about children playing soccer...does it not make sense to er on the side of caution and mandate headgear? Hell there are pro players wearing headgear (not many but there are).

Wearing shin guards does not guaranty that you will not feel any pain if you get kicked in the shins but these are still mandated to wear are they not?.....can we bring back some basic common sense to this world please?

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Larry Miller] #733728 02/27/20 06:22 PM
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I used those soft balls you can buy in the super market (plastic, slightly larger then a soccer ball). Worked very well, son now in college and a heading machine.

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Re: FA advises coaches not to train children in heading but denies blanket ban [Re: Anonymous] #733743 02/28/20 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I believe that the answer is you have properly licensed coaches/trainers who can properly tech the technique of heading a ball. I watch kids doing headers without any guidance or coaches caring. That is an important area where you need licensed trainers who know what they are doing. Also, I believe that headers should be eliminated in high school games. You have players who have never been taught jumping in the air and hurting other players because they have never been taught the proper technique. I have seen too many injuries in high school with players having no clue about timing there jump or properly hitting the ball with their head.


There are many coaches who don't know what they're doing that is certain. But it is also true that neuromuscular development isn't there for kids/pre teens.

The one positive is that it gives a bit more time to focus on other soccer skills. Heading can be learned quickly and doesn't take years to master like proper foot skills do. Waiting a few years to start heading isn't going to crush the game, but it may make a big difference in brain health.

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