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We have often seen soccer players score incredible headers during a match and we think “wow I wish I could head the ball like that”. The fact is that many professional soccer players train a lot to perfect heading the ball and for the average person, getting time to practice outside of normal training can just be too hard.
In this article we will have a look at how to head the ball properly, what part of the head do you use to head the ball, why does it hurt to head the ball and many others.
Step by step guide
1. Look at the ball
Some players have a fear of heading the ball and will often look away or close their eyes just as the ball is about to make contact with their head. When they do this it increases the chances of them injuring themselves. You should always look at the soccer ball when you are about to head it and in doing so you can target which part of the ball you want to strike the ball with.
2. Plant your feet
If you are leaning back or are on your toes then this greatly reduces the amount of power you can get on your header. Plant your feet and make yourself as strong as you can so you can get the most power behind your header to give you the best chance at making a good connection.
3. Bend your knees
By bending your knees you can maintain your balance and build momentum so you can get the right amount of power behind your header.
4. Lean back
You lean back to build up momentum, very similar to when you bring your leg back as you prepare to kick a soccer ball. The same applies when you are about to head the ball as well.
4.1. Jump (optional)
If the soccer ball is coming in high from a corner or cross, then you will need to push off the ground as quickly and as hard as you can. You need to try and time your jump so that your head reaches the height of the ball.
5. Move your head forward quickly
It is the same as if you are about to kick a ball, move your leg forward as quick as you can. The same applies when you are about to head the ball. The quicker you move your head forward, the more power you are going to get behind your header. Use the middle of your forehead if you can because it is the biggest part of your head and it is the most solid part of your head.
What part of your head do you hit a soccer ball with?
Now this will largely depend on the situation that you find yourself in during a match. The safest answer is like the one above, the forehead. This is because it is the most stable and solid part of your head and because of the area that it covers, you are going to get good clean contact with the ball.
That is going to result in a nice, clean powerful header. Now if you are positioning yourself for a corner kick and you are at the front post, using your forehead will not do much good as you are not looking for substantial contact with the ball, rather just a glancing blow.
For this type of header, a corner of your forehead is probably best suited at a glancing header as you are not looking at getting substantial power, rather using the power from the player’s kick and you are simply just trying to help the ball on its way and hopefully into the net.
Then there are defensive headers. For the most part, it will not matter what part of the head you use, as long as you get the ball out of the danger area for your team. Again ideally the center of your forehead is best for the best power and contact with the ball but sometimes depending on your position, that just is not possible so any part of your head will do.
Is it safe to head a soccer ball?
Depending on who you talk to, you will get different answers. However according to medical professionals (they will know best) constantly heading a soccer ball can greatly increase your risk of getting concussions.
This is because essentially it is a repeated blow to your head and no matter how hard or soft the soccer ball is kicked; you are still going to get an impact on your head and that is never a good thing.
Over time, the repeated use of your head which is called subconcussive injuries can also manifest and that can sometimes result in some brain damage for the player. However, with the right protective headgear and using a proper technique, is it possible for players to reduce the risk of injury. Heading in Soccer: How Dangerous Is It? (healthline.com)
Why does heading a soccer ball hurt?
A heading on a soccer ball can hurt yes but normally that only occurs when a player uses the incorrect technique when the soccer ball comes into contact with the head. However, if the header is performed correctly, along with the proper technique any pain that the player feels should be minimal.
So that is why it is important to always practice the proper technique during training sessions to avoid any injuries that can occur when not properly heading the ball.
Considering the importance that is being put on player’s safety and especially with concussions, it is vital that every player gets the proper training and when it comes to heading a soccer ball so we do not have an increase in concussions and some bad cases, brain damage.