Heading for beginners


1. Each player with a football, emphasis on striking the ball at the hairline. Players self-head ball back to hands as they jog across field and back. Stop at each line (sideline to sideline) to stretch.

2. Pairs with one ball. Moving across width of field, player running backwards tosses ball to oncoming player, who alternates heading to tosser’s feet and hands.

3. Pairs with one ball. Tosser on end of grid (15-20 yards long); header attacks ball for either defensive or attacking headers as he or she moves forward or backward to play ball.

4. Players with one ball each, head juggling to self. Add movement to a line and back while working in pairs. Make relay race – return to starting point if lose control of ball.

5. Pairs juggling. Hit ball twice and return to teammate; 3x, 4x, 5x and work numbers back to one touch.

Fundamental stage

1. Pairs hold ball head high and head it out of hands (don’t toss it). Forces player to hit through the ball.

2. Pairs, lying on stomach. Use upper back and neck to head for power. Start with chin tucked down and, as ball is headed, extend forward.

Heading 1

3. Pairs, sitting position with hands and feet on the ground and hips lifted off ground. As tosser throws ball, header pushes his or her hips forward, and as they head the ball, drives hips back for power.

4. Sitting position in pairs. Emphasis on arching back, “chin in, chin forward” head posture as they meet ball tossed by teammate (lack of backspin on the ball indicates proper striking technique with the head.

Watch that header doesn’t drop chin and hit ball with top of head;
Strikes ball at full thrust, meets the ball “out front” of body or in front of vertical axis of body;

Strikes ball on its top half (offensive heading) and head “down.”

Heading for beginners

5. Kneeling position with hyper extended hips in pairs. Emphasis on striking “through the ball” with head and upper body to impart power to ball. Also have follow-through such that header lands on his or her hands when finished.

Double groups and have two kneeling players self toss and try to play ball under hands of second player five yards away. Others have extra balls and retrieve. One-minute games.

6. Standing position in groups of two. Emphasis placed on hips and legs (staggered positioning of legs) when striking the ball. Watch total coordinated effort of body in heading. Introduce defensive heading with emphasis on striking bottom half of the ball for height.

Short, short long game (see Diagram 1 (A)). In groups of four (extra player with balls), start with player in middle (X1) self-tossing and playing a short ball to second player (X2), who then heads long ball to X3. X3 plays ball into a pivoted X1 who plays short ball back to X3. X3 then plays long ball to X2, etc. Watch where surface of the ball is being struck.

Heading7. Groups of three with a player in middle who redirects hand-served balls to one of the open players (see Diagram 1(B)). Emphasis on varied serves so that heading player adjusts body position to head the ball “in front” of them and, as much as posssible, faces with his or her upper body toward the intended target player.

8. Jumping for headers.
A. Twelve players — six form circle and hold ball with two hands at head height for other six players to run at and jump and head clockwise, then counter-clockwise rotation (see Diagram 2). Rotate player’s roles.

  • Watch for takeoff on foot closest to ball;
  • Approaching the ball from side, must try to turn so that upper body is square to ball;
  • Watch for arch and head thrust as in earlier instruction.

Heading 4B. Groups of three: tosser, stationary player, header (fourth player with extra balls.

Header performs headers over stationary player with two-footed takeoff from standing start;
Header performs headers over stationary player with short run-up and one-footed takeoff;
Have stationary player continuously jumping to distract header;
Have headers try to strike balls offensively and defensively;
Have headers try to strike balls to the server who moves to one side after tossing the ball to the header.

9. One ball per two players. Player performs three headers (offensive, defensive, his or her choice) with a player with a ball; players then move to another player with a ball (see Diagram 3). Alternate players with and without balls Next round – slide left, jump and head; slide right, jump and head; dive and head.

Drill can be timed (one minute?) and greatest number by each team can be tallied;

Can require a certain number of headers by each individual and lapsed time for team.

Youth soccer heading10. Moving triangle; 2 tosses ball to moving 1, who heads to feet of 3 (see Diagram 4). Change and have head to hands of either the server or third player (see Diagram 5). Change and have players punt ball out of hands, rather than toss ball.

11. Three groups of three players organized in triangles, each with a ball in a large area (see Diagram 6, parts A and B). Balls must always be tossed to a teammate, but upon toss, header may play ball to an open player from any triangular group. Repeat as triangles move freely about. Try with punts from hand and balls played from the ground.

12. 2v2 in 10 x 15-yard grid. Two players must stand on their end line acting as goalkeepers to defend their goal (the 10-yard line) (see Diagram 7). The other two players head the ball back and forth and try to score by heading it over the end line. The ball starts with a toss, but then must be headed back and forth only. If the ball drops, the two who were heading retreat to defend their goal line. The other two players pick up the ball where it dropped and attack by heading back and forth. If the keepers catch the ball, they start the tossing, heading action, etc. Score by heading the ball over the keepers (defensive headers) or by playing ball below head height (offensive heading).