Drills to Improve Soccer Heading Skills
Regardless of your position on the field, your ability to head the ball may be the deciding factor that can win and lose games. When a soccer player is strong in the air he has a huge edge over his opponents. As soon as the ball is above everybody’s head, either team should try to get control of it.
If a player waits for the ball to hit the ground, he runs the potential risk of losing the ball to the opposition, or possibly conceding a goal. Heading is such an important skill to acquire as it has such a wide range of uses. Whether it is for scoring and saving goals or clearing, controlling and passing the ball (set pieces, corner kicks, free kicks, goal kicks, etc.).
If you’re committed to improving your players’ overall skill set, heading is an area that needs to be given much attention as it will prove extremely valuable throughout anybody’s soccer career. Heading is a difficult skill and players should spend a certain amount of time practicing this as it doesn’t come naturally like any other skill.
In this section you will find a series of progressive heading drills and fun games that assist you to coach a good heading technique for defensive and offensive headers.
Key Coaching Points for Heading:
We’ve polled coaches and here are the key coaching points they recommend when it comes to headers:
- ready position – stay balanced on toes with knees bent and move in line of path of the ball
- eyes open to read path of the ball until impact
- mouth closed (to avoid injury), firm neck
- contact should be made with the forehead area between hairline and eyebrows
- arms help to move the head forward, to keep balance and to protect from other players
- keep your shoulders leveled and perpendicular to your target
- work with hips, legs and back to produce power and distance (arch your back and then unwind)
- time your run and jump to make contact with ball at highest possible point – prior to your opponent
- move head forward towards the ball and go after the ball aggressively – don’t wait to get hit by the ball
- follow through to the target area
- defenders want to head the ball to go high, wide and far and usually aim for the bottom half of the ball for the ball to go up
- attackers direct or deflect ball to target and aim for the top half of the ball to make contact with for the ball to go down