Soccer heading games are a great way to introduce the soccer heading technique to players who are at the age where they are now able to head the soccer ball. If players are still confident heading a proper soccer ball a sponge soccer ball is a great place to start!
There are 3 types of headers, defensive, attacking, and passing headers. With each type of header, there will be soccer heading games you can use to promote this type of header.
Before we get into the soccer heading games here is the technique of how to head a soccer ball.
Download these drills as a PDF at the bottom of the page
The Basics of Heading a Soccer Ball
In the US heading has been banned for players under the age of 12 with an increasing amount of data showing that heading especially during the younger ages can have a significant impact on the likely hood of developing mental health issues in later life, other soccer organizations are now looking to follow suit.
That’s why it is important to start introducing how to head a soccer ball to your players to help build a strong heading foundation.
If your players are below the age of 12 sponge soccer balls are the next best thing.
Keep your eyes on the soccer ball
This may seem like an obvious one but the more you keep your eyes on the ball and track its movement the more likely you are to make a better connection with the ball.
It is also important to time your jump.
Jump too late and your header will more than likely go too high and jump too soon you’ll struggle to generate any sort of power
Make a connection with the soccer ball in the center of your forehead.
Not only is this the safest part of the head to use but this will also help you control the direction, trajectory, and power of your header either when trying to make an offensive header on goal or a defensive header to clear the ball
Knees bent and lean back when heading the soccer ball
Keep your knees bent to safely jump and land when jumping for a header, lean back as well to help with your balance.
By leaning back you can either cushion the header or with a forward motion of your neck generate power on a cross.
Communicate when going to head a soccer ball
Make sure you communicate with your teammates and other players by calling for the ball.
Most concussions will occur from a clash of heads with a teammate or an opponent.
I hope this has managed to give you a better understanding of how to head a soccer ball. Click here for a video tutorial of how this would look!
Make sure you have all the soccer coaching equipment you need for the drills before starting.
Attacking Header Soccer
This is used when trying to score a goal from a header, this requires a lot more control to direct the header beyond the keeper trying to direct the ball horizontally or directing it downwards.
The timing of the jump is crucial, players must try to generate power using their neck muscles and make contact with the soccer ball in the center of their forehead.
Attacking soccer Header games
This Soccer heading game is an incredibly fun and competitive drill with unpressured heading to reduce the risk of injury.
The players divide into 2 teams and form a line behind 2 cones.
In front of the cones, each team will have 3 soccer balls placed on cones equally spaced out (Water Bottles also make a good replacement)
Coaches will stand off to the side and feed soccer balls to the separate lines and the players must head the soccer ball to try and knock the soccer balls off the cones or water bottles over, the first team to do this will be the winner.
- Make contact with the ball at the center of your forehead
- Follow through with your neck to generate power (Attack the ball instead of letting it hit you
- Jump up so your head is higher than the Soccer ball, this will enable you to aim the header down.
Defensive Header Soccer
This is typically used to clear the soccer ball from a cross/corner or a long ball. The purpose of this header is to get as much height and trajectory on the ball to clear it away from your goal.
Similar to the attacking header the jump must be timed as it would usually be contested with an attacker, jump too early and you can miss the ball, jump too late and the attacker would have won the header.
Defensive Header Soccer game
Get your soccer players into pairs, one with a soccer ball and one without.
Player 1 without the soccer runs toward player 2 holding the soccer ball and taps it.
Player 2 will then throw the soccer ball in the air while player 1 jockeys backward. Player 1 must time his jump and use a defensive header to loop the ball back over player 2.
- Stay side on to easily judge the flight of the ball
- Use the center of your forehead to head the ball and generate power using your neck muscles
- Jump and time the header to ensure you are under the ball to get a high trajectory
Passing Header Soccer games
This is used as a cushioned header to pass the ball to a teammate, you generally don’t want to generate any power on the header instead of taking pace off the ball for your teammate to control.
Passing Header Soccer Drill
Divide your players into 2 teams and create a field with 2 end zones. The teams must work to try and get the ball in the end zone, if they do then they score a point.
The sequence must be throw–head–catch.
If you are holding the ball you cannot move.
If the ball is dropped, it will be a turnover with the ball going to the opposition
- Be aware of your players around you so you know where you want to direct your header
- Be aware of the amount of power, you don’t need to head it as hard!
- Direct your head in the direction you want the ball to go.
I hope these soccer heading games will help your players become more confident while heading the ball.