What Age Can You Head the Ball in Soccer?
What age can you head the ball in soccer? The U.S. Soccer has implemented a policy that prohibits children aged 10 and under from heading the ball during games and practice.
Obviously heading the ball is an essential skill that players need to master but there has been a prioritization over safety especially for younger players.
Many soccer organizations have established rules and guidelines to minimize the risk of head injuries, including restrictions on the age at which players can start heading the ball.
The goal of these rules is to reduce the risk of concussions and other head injuries, which can have serious long-term consequences.
Soccer Heading Rules (by Age)
The following are the soccer heading rules that U.S. soccer teams and organizations should abide by.
- 10 Years or Younger: No heading allowed whatsoever. Coaches are not allowed to teach heading techniques and referees should blow the whistle if a player intentionally heads the ball in a game.
- 11 to 13 Years Old: More of a gray area but it’s advised that players are limited to 15 and 20 headers per week. Practicing headers should be limited to less than 30 minutes per week.
- 14 Years and Older: There are no limitations and players are free to practice headers and perform headers during games.
It’s important to note that teams in the U.S. are organized by age groups. For example, kids that are 10 years old are considered U11 (under 11). So, if a 10 year-old is playing U13, they still cannot head the ball since the rules are age-based and not team-based.
The Risks of Heading the Ball
Heading the ball is a fundamental skill in soccer, but it comes with risks. Here are some of the risks associated with heading the ball:
Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Concussions are a common injury in soccer, and heading the ball is one of the main causes.
A concussion occurs when the brain hits the inside of the skull, causing damage to brain cells.
Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Traumatic brain injuries are more severe than concussions and can have long-lasting effects.
They occur when there is a blow to the head that causes damage to the brain.
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can include loss of consciousness, seizures, and cognitive impairments.
Players who experience symptoms of a concussion or a traumatic brain injury should seek immediate medical attention.
Long-Term Effects of Heading the Ball
Significant research has shown that heading the ball can have long-term effects on a player’s brain health.
Some studies have found that soccer players who frequently head the ball have a higher risk of developing cognitive impairments later in life, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s important to note that the risks of heading the ball can vary depending on a player’s age, skill level, and the frequency and intensity of heading.
Younger players may be more vulnerable to head injuries because their brains are still developing, and they may not have the skills to properly execute a header.
Additionally, players who frequently head the ball may be at a higher risk of injury than those who only do it occasionally.
After conducting thorough research and analyzing the current rules and regulations set by U.S. Soccer, it is clear that the safety of young soccer players is of utmost importance.
The governing body has taken significant steps to minimize the risk of head injuries caused by heading the ball.
I think this is a great move to protect the longevity of players and understand that the overall health of the human is a priority.