How can you make heading fun for youth players, so they’re not afraid? You want to make them comfortable, so heading is just another skill they do every day at practice. Use foam balls, volleyball trainers and/or deflated soccer balls. There’s plenty of time to use a harder ball. Younger players need to get accustom to the skills without a headache or fear.
- Don’t spear your body into the ball. Arch your back and snap. Keep feet moving.
- Use your arms as if you’re doing a pull up over a bar. Keeping your arms up helps to keep you protected when heading.
- Strike ball at hair line of your forehead.
- Open eyes and close mouth.
- Toss to self before going to partner work. Gentle overhand tosses.
- VOLLEYBALL TRAINERS are fantastic for teaching younger players. Correct heading technique can be taught without fear from your young players.
Equipment: 1 ball
- Defensive header: One partner tosses and the other partner heads the ball up into the air, so the tosser can make a catch. Remember you want to contact the bottom half of the ball to get it up and away.
- Offensive header: Partner tosses and the other partner attempts to head the ball to the feet of their partner.
- Sit-up header: One partner tosses to other partner laying on the ground. As the ball is tossed, perform a sit up and head the ball back to the tosser. This is great for the abs and gets a player accustom to using their abs when heading. NOTE: It doesn’t need to be a full sit up. Leaning back is sufficient.
CLICK HERE to see a drill of passing diamonds. It’s different then heading, but the pattern is the same.
Equipment: 1 ball
- In groups of 3, one partner stands in between the other two partners. Each partner is separated by approximately 3-5 yards. Use your best judgement for distance.
- The player in the center, runs about 3-5 yards to their right, opens hips and heads ball to other stationary tosser.
- Once the first header is accomplished, the player that headed the ball, will run about 5-8 yards to their right, open body, turn and head the ball to the other stationary tosser.
- Repeat pattern for 6-8 headers and rotate player in the center.
Equipment: 2 flags, a few soccer balls and 1 large goal.
- Coach and or another player, tosses the ball from a side channel.
- One player at a time will attempt to head the ball from the 6 yard line.
- Place a keeper in goal to make saves.
- OPTION: Make it a competition with your class or team. Kids love this!
Equipment: 1 ball and cone per team.
- Each team lines up behind a designated cone.
- One tosser, steps out in front of the team, approximately 5 yards away from the person player in line. Use your best judgement for distance.
- The tosser will toss to the first person on their team. Once the first player heads the ball, they will immediately sit. The tosser will retrieve the header.
- This process of tossing, heading and sitting will continue until the last player in line sits.
- NOTE: Only the tosser can retrieve the ball, if it’s an inaccurate header. First team to finish wins.
- VARIATION: Same process, except the entire team must run to a designated location to finish the race.
Heading The Cross
Equipment: 5-10 soccer balls
- Seated header back to server.
- Kneeling header back to server.
- Squat to dive header back to server.
- Standing header back to server.
- Coach serves the ball from behind the goal and attacker runs in from the 18 yard line with a keeper. Keeper should allow the header to take place, but make save.
- Coach serves the ball from behind the goal, add defender but defender only jumps up with the defender. They don’t attempt a steal.
- Same drill, but this time add a second attacker and now the defender can attempt a header away from the goal.
- Same drill with server from the side channels.
Header Money In The Middle
Equipment: 1 ball, pinnies and 2 flags or extra large cones.
- Two players stand in between the two flags. This is best played if the flags are 5 yards apart and placed in a field line.
- 2 players are set up on each side of the players in between the flag, for a total of 6 players in this game.
- The object is to head the ball over the players in the middle of the flags.
- Players in the middle can use their hand and jump up to catch or block the ball.
- If your ball is blocked or caught, you become the monkey in the middle. OPTION: Monkey in the middle must catch the ball in order to get out of the middle.
- NOTE: Players may serve to themselves or another player. They may also immediately head the ball as it’s headed to them.
2 Team header Competition
Equipment: 2 corner flags or large cones, soccer balls and pinnies.
- Each team starts 5 yards away from 2 corner flags that are 5 yards apart.
- The team’s are on opposite sides of the flags.
- You’ll have two servers on each side.
- A player from team “A” will be the keeper in between the flag. A Server will underhand toss the ball to a player from team “B” that needs to head between the flags.
- The player on team “B” that just attempted a header, instantly becomes the keeper and a new player from team “A” will receive a toss and attempt a header.
- NOTE: The player that just attempted the header becomes the keeper.
- TIP: Play up to a specific score such as first 5 goals and start again. Players will have a blast while getting better at heading.
Equipment: 1 ball, 2 goals and pinnies.
- Play a small sided game 3 v 3 with an additional 2 players to help the team in possession of the ball. 20 X 20 yard field.
- Have a server throw a ball back into play on missed shots or saves to simulate a rebound.
- The toss from the coach will also give more heading opportunities.
- Goals can only be scored from rebounds and headers.
Heading Keeper Ball
Equipment: 1 ball, two goals and pinnies.
- Approximately 30 X 30 yards with a 5 v 5 game + keepers.
- Keepers are allowed to pick the ball up anywhere on the field, but not allowed to throw the ball into the goal.
- Goals may only be scored from headers. Both teams will get a lot of heading opportunities, since the keeper can toss the ball from anywhere to simulate crosses and passes in the air.
- VARIATION: Same game, except each team has 2 keepers with the same rules. This game is played 11 v 11 on a full field. 9 v 9 on a 3/4 field will work just as good.
- NOTE: No keeper to keeper passing and remember in both variations, keepers may use foot skills as much as the prefer.
Over Sized volleyball trainers such as the Tachikara above are the perfect type of ball to teach younger players how to perform headers.
It builds confidence and improves technique. It allows your players to leave practice without a headache.
TIP: Deflate your soccer balls to make them softer on days of heading practice, if you don’t have access to the volleyball trainers.
NICKY SEYDA, Captain of my Soccer team and YOUNGEST FREESTYLER FOR THE NEW YORK REDBULLS prefers the Mercurial style. He likes the snug fit and the supportive feel they provide when he plays.
CLICK HERE to check out a video of Nicky performing some of his famous freestyle moves.
If you enjoyed the previous activities, check out THIS POST!
I hope you enjoyed the activities. Please feel free to leave a comment or question below.