Primary school children will no longer be able to head a football in training under new guidelines released by the English, Northern Irish and Scottish Football Associations
It comes in light of the historic study led by the University of Glasgow, published in October last year, which reveals the first major insights into lifelong health outcomes in former professional footballers.
Although there was no evidence in the FIELD study to suggest that heading the ball was the cause to the link with incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease, the updated heading guidelines have been produced in consultation with UEFA and.
The recommendations will incorporate all children’s and youth football and include the following recommendations:
Heading should not be introduced in training sessions from the age of six through to 11.
Heading should be considered a low coaching priority between the ages of 12 to 15 years however training sessions can be introduced. These should be limited to one session of no more than five headers per week at 13 years, increasing to 10 headers per session at 14 and 15.
It is acknowledged that heading will begin to form part of the game at 12 and should be permitted, however, coaches are encouraged to promote a style of play that limits long passing.
Heading burden will remain restricted to one training session per week for 16 and 17 year olds and coaches should be mindful of limiting repetitions
FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said: “This updated heading guidance is an evolution of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football.
“Our research has shown that heading is rare in youth football matches, so this guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”