Heading the ball is one of the toughest skills to master in soccer, but it can also be one of the best ways to score goals and make great passes. Unlike learning how to volley, learning to head the ball should only take you a couple of practice sessions.
Below you will find out how to properly head the ball in soccer.
Always Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
One of the most common mistakes that soccer players make when attempting a header is taking their eyes off of the ball at the last second. Not only does this up your chances of missing the header, but it also increases the chances of you getting injured on the play.
As the ball is coming your way, focus on getting your body and head in good position by watching the ball in flight. This will allow you to make quick adjustments before you attempt to head the ball and will greatly increase your accuracy.
You’re probably going to close your eyes as the ball makes contact with your head, but just make sure that they are open long enough so you get proper contact.
Upper and Lower Body Movement
Sometimes players focus a bit too much on simply making contact with the ball and forget to use proper form. If you don’t use your legs and upper body to generate power, then your chances of completing a headed shot or pass go way down.
In most cases, our knees will need to bend at some point during your header, regardless of whether you leave your feet or not. Your upper body will help to move your head forward for a more accurate and powerful header, but your legs are most important because they help with your timing and getting your head aligned with the ball.
Make Contact with the Center of Your Forehead
If you want to head the ball accurately and with as much power as possible, you need the ball to hit directly in the center of your forehead. This will make it much easier to direct your header since you want to turn your head to direct the ball. IF it hits you anywhere but in the middle of your forehead, the ball could go in any direction.
Also keep in mind that you have the most protection in the middle of your forehead. You want to avoid concussions at all costs, so practice heading correctly and only when you’re completely comfortable with you should you attempt headers in games.
Sometimes it’s okay to allow the ball to deflect off of your head and into a teammate’s path, but you will usually want to move your head in the direction where you want the ball to go. For example, if you want to be a good passer when you’re heading the ball, then you will want to practice following through so the ball goes exactly where your teammate is going to be.
The follow through is obviously very important when you’re shooting, too. Headers are usually going to be a lot slower than shots, so you need to get a good follow through to try to beat the goalie.
Communicate with Your Teammates
Attempting a header is always going to be one of the most dangerous moves in soccer, but it becomes a lot less dangerous when you communicate with your teammates. If they know that you are going for the ball, then there is a much lower chance of someone running into your head while you are attempting a header.
There’s no need to tell your teammates that you are going for a header, but you should let them know that you are making a play on the ball. Over time, you should be able to develop chemistry with your teammates and everyone will instinctively know to back off.