Heading Against the Wall

by Erik Imler

Heading against the wall was an exercise I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid…(and as an adult).

A two minute explanation of proper technique followed by 15 minutes of practice on his own was all that was necessary to introduce my son to the concept of heading. While reaching his Day 1 goal of 5 headers against the wall, I saw his confidence grow in a very short period of time.

Don’t you think that the heading ban for under 12’s is foolish? Watching kids back away from a ball that is at head height has such a negative influence on the game. In some cases, backing away invites MORE dangerous play than simply attacking the ball with the head.

A quote from the November 18, 2016 blog post entitled, “Heading in the Right Direction,” Graham Ramsay states –

Banning is what insurance companies and other sanitized legal entities want…and thereby strangle the sport by another means.  Rarely seen is anyone teaching heading and reinforcing those lessons….the danger of heading a soccer ball has a simple cure – EDUCATION  & PRACTICE.

Check out what a little bit of education and practice does for a relative beginner.

About Erik Imler

A Retired Professional Player, NCAA Champion (1989,1991,1992), and 1992 U.S. Olympic Team (Barcelona, Spain)who is dis-satisfied with the status quo of youth soccer development in the United States and motivated to create a youth program that addresses the most prominent technical deficiencies in many youth players - passing & receiving.

  • I am not a fan of an outright ban on heading but I really don’t think heading has a significant role in the game for the younger players. As the fields get bigger it becomes a necessary skill. On a small field, small sided games (especially any game without out goal keepers) heading is much less useful than trapping or chesting the ball. For that reason, I support the rule change. I also support reviewing the decision after a few seasons to see if the rule change provided any reduction in injuries.

    Really it comes down to how much does it hurt the development of the players at their age vs the risk. Younger children are much more susceptible to concussions, especially younger girls. Head injuries have a cumulative effect making a person more susceptible to future injury. My opinion, I err on the side of caution for young ages.

    Mr. Imler, please don’t take offense as I appreciate your perspective, passion and your knowledge of soccer. Many soccer experts are protective of the game they love but have not done the research on the cause and effect and long term consequences of head injuries. I respect your efforts and I think you can help make the future of youth soccer better and want to share my perspective.

  • I agree that learning proper technique and practice is a wise idea. It’s a skill used in the game and the earlier one practices the craft the better.
    What DOES bother me though is how there are so many facets of a players skill set that allow better control of the ball on the ground or below the waste and most every player struggle with these more simple actions. So using ones head properly with such forceful balls coming in … well good luck with that!

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