Thursday, 29 November 2012

Nutrition for Soccer

Successful soccer competition requires players to cover 10-12 km of moderate running whilst having the ability to react and perform intense efforts such as sprinting, jumping and kicking. The ’intermittent activity’ that characterizes soccer increases energy expenditure and fatigue in athletes when compared to activities that are more continuous such as running or cycling.

Fatigue in soccer is evident with reports that running distances in the second half of games can be 300 meters lower than in the first half of games. Most of this lower work rate occurs in the last 10 minutes. This will impact on performance as players cannot supply the intense efforts needed to perform important actions such as sprinting, tackling, shooting etc and will have a decreased ability to close down the opposition and support other players.

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

A number of factors can cause this including dehydration and lowered muscle glycogen levels. Research has shown that if soccer coaches can minimize the effect of these 2 processes then soccer players will be able to increase the distances they run in games and have the sustained ability to produce intense efforts towards the end of games.
Decreased/Exhausted Muscle Glycogen levels
Muscle glycogen is stored in the body when carbohydrates are consumed in the diet and supplies energy for both high and low intensity activities. Near empty muscle glycogen stores will not only affect physical performance on the pitch but also the players ability to concentrate and perform fine skills. Saltin’s (1973) classic study (see table 1) highlighted the effects of low pre-match glycogen levels (through a low carbohydrate diet) on performance during soccer competition. He highlighted that a low carbohydrate diet caused low muscle glycogen levels prior to a soccer game, which caused players to walk more during the game and sprint less. This also had an impact on the distances covered. A high carbohydrate diet meant players covered 12000 meters but a low carbohydrate diet meant players only covered 9700 meters and covered 1500 meters less in the second half than they did in the first half showing fatigue occurred.

During soccer matches fluid loss will be produced due to the demands on respiration and increased sweating in an attempt to cool the body. Depending on the conditions and temperatures during a soccer match fluid loss can correspond to 2-5 kg of body mass loss. In an average 70 kg footballer this can reflect a 3-5% reduction in body mass, which has been linked to a decrease in endurance capacity (therefore lowered running distances), 35% decrease in high intensity exercise (therefore lower sprinting, jumping, kicking levels) and difficulties in concentration.

Therefore you as a soccer coach must design a way to minimize this occurring by ensuring that your players engage in and understand beneficial nutritional strategies to maintain muscle glycogen and prevent dehydration.

Pre Match Nutrition Strategies
  • Players should be fully hydrated prior to a match by consuming adequate amounts of water 2 days before the match (hydration can be checked by players looking at their own urine, if its not transparent or straw colored then water consumption should be increased).
  • A pre-match meal should be eaten 3 hours prior to competition (eating later than this means players could experience intestinal problems, eating earlier may cause players to be fasting their glycogen stores prior to the match).
  • Ideally players should eat 4 g /kg of body weight of carbohydrate (representing 280 g of carbohydrate for a 70 kg player) before the match with a little protein and little to no fat.
  • An ideal meal would have 2 types of carbohydrate such as vegetables and potatoes or vegetables and pasta with a little light meat such as chicken or fish if desired.
  • If players cannot eat enough solid carbohydrate before the match then a carbohydrate drink could also be added to the meal.
  • Most teams do not have the facility to provide a set pre-match meal to their players that follow these principles. Therefore the coach needs to educate their players about these principles, so that they can be followed at home prior to a game without the coaches guidance.
  • Players should drink a carbohydrate drink immediately before kick off or no later than 30 minutes before kick off (this should a 5-10% solution e.g. 500 ml drink should have at least 25-50 grams of carbohydrate in).
During the Match Nutrition Strategies
  • Players should attempt to stay hydrated and top up their glycogen levels.
  • Ideally players will drink 200 ml every 15-20 minutes during the match.  Therefore the coach must get players to drink whenever there are pauses in the game such as injuries.
  • It has been debated whether players should drink water or a carbohydrate drink (drinking water will mean it is emptied from the stomach from the intestine quicker, but a carbohydrate drink will top up glycogen levels).
  • The basic principle adopted is during the 1st half players consume a carbohydrate drink that is 2-3% (will reflect 10 grams of carbohydrates per 500 ml)
  • At half time players should drink a carbohydrate drink that has 6-7% carbs and also consume a small amount of solid quick release carbohydrates such as sweets.
  • In the second half players should continue consuming the 6-7% carbohydrate solution.
  • Players should have consumed 600-800 ml of fluid through the match.
NOTE: All fluids consumed should contain 0.5 grams of sodium (salt) per liter of fluid to ensure that the water is utilized and not passed through urine.

Post Match Nutrition Strategies
  • Nutrition immediately after the match will have a huge impact on how players recover from the match.
  • Players need to consume 10 g/kg body mass of carbohydrate over the 24 hours after the match (reflecting 700 grams of carbohydrate in our ‘average’ 70 kg footballer).
  • Players also need to consume 1.5 x body mass loss of fluids (e.g. if our player weighed 70 kg prior to the game and weighs 67.5 kg after the match then 3.75 liters of fluid should be consumed over the next 12 hours - remember the sodium!)
  • 2 hours after a match reflects the time when the body will respond the most to proper nutrition therefore this is the time when coaches should get players to eat and drink maybe with a team pre-match meal.
  • However the sooner within this 2 hours you can get players to hydrate and eat the better, e.g. players should be encouraged to consume a carbohydrate drink when coming off the pitch.
  • Over this 2-hour period 2-3g/kg body mass of carbohydrates should be eaten with at lest 6 grams of protein being consumed.
  • Players should therefore drink a 10% carbohydrate drink immediately after a game and then eat a meal that has quick release carbohydrates in such as mashed potato and white rice including some protein such as a chicken breast or some tuna.
  • Due to the rigors of the game some players may not be able to ‘stomach’ solid foods therefore they should be encouraged to drink large amounts of a carbohydrate drink to ensure muscle glycogen is replenished.
You as a coach should adopt these principles regardless of whether you coach a youth, amateur or professional team. Ensure your players are educated about what they should be eating and drinking, or in higher standard teams having sit down meals that reflect these basic principles.

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Monday, 26 November 2012

Applications of High Intensity Soccer Training

Aerobic high-intensity training has typically focused on enhancing VO2max, utilizing training protocols that elicit high percentages of VO2max that are sustainable for an extended period of time. However, the importance of VO2max in football has been questioned. Indeed, in a number of studies dealing with already trained individuals, improvements in specific performance tests were not associated with significant changes in VO2max. Nevertheless, even though useful in endurance events (eg, running, cycling), the limitations of performing continuous aerobic high-intensity training for football should be considered. Match analysis systems show that, during a game, players perform ~250 brief intense runs as well as many other demanding activities, including turning, tackling, jumping, kicking, and breaking. Thus, both the characteristics and the intermittent nature of the game should be taken into account when designing training programs for football. As a consequence, we suggest that aerobic and speed-endurance training should be football related and preferably performed with the ball. There are several advantages associated with carrying out soccer-specific training compared with generic training activities. For example, the ability to change direction at high running speed is specifically related to the type of training performed. Therefore, it is important that the training activities resemble those experienced during the game so that the groups of muscles engaged in football are trained, and the specific coordination abilities developed. This outcome can be achieved through small-sided games or football-related drills consisting of repeated exercise bouts involving changes of speed, direction, and specific movement patterns typical of those performed during match play.

English: Ryan Valentine scores the goal that k...

   The study by Ferrari Bravo showed that a training protocol employing 4 x 4-min continuous running at 90% to 95% HRmax improved VO2max but was less effective in enhancing football-specific performance (YYIR test) compared with repeated-sprint training. On the contrary, repeated sprint5 and small-sided game training were both very effective in improving YYIR performance. The physiological responses to continuous exercise are different from those to intermittent exercise, with the latter allowing higher prolonged metabolic stress with less marked fatigue. For example, the rise of the O2 uptake is faster, the total utilization of O2 bound to myoglobin is greater, and the fluctuations of muscle ATP and creatine phosphate are more pronounced when intense exercise is repeated. In addition, substrate utilization and fiber type recruitment are different, with intermittent exercise activating both slow and fast twitch fibers, which would have been recruited only after prolonged sub maximal continuous exercise. These aspects are particularly relevant for team sports in which the ability to perform high-intensity intermittent exercise is essential.

   Another advantage of performing specific high-intensity training in football is that the coordination, technical, and tactical skills are trained under fatiguing conditions closer to match play. For example, a study from the Italian Serie A league reported that players of the most successful teams cover a greater total distance (18%), including a higher proportion of high-intensity (16%) running in possession of the ball compared with players of less successful teams. Thus, the players’ ability to exercise at high-intensity when interacting with the ball may be an important determinant for success. In addition, studies have shown that forwards often receive the ball while sprinting or turning and cover ~64% of their high-intensity running distance with ball possession. Furthermore, the players’ involvement with the ball, short passes, and successful short passes decrease between the first and the second half as well as after periods of very high-intensity exercise during matches. These findings highlight the importance of increasing the players’ contact with the ball during high-intensity training sessions. Technical and tactical training should be performed under conditions that replicate the physical demands of a competitive game.

   When carrying out fitness training with the ball, it is fundamental to make sure that players are exercising at the desired intensity. Exercise intensity can be manipulated during small-sided games via modification of variables such as field dimension, number of players, the coach’s verbal encouragement, and specific rules. Studies have shown that different combinations of these factors may lead to a variety of intensities resulting in ranges from ~84% of maximal heart rate (blood lactate concentration of ~3.4 mmol/L) during a six-a-side game on small pitch without coach encouragement, to ~91% of maximal heart rate (blood lactate concentration of ~6.5 mmol/L) during a three-a-side game on a larger pitch with coach encouragement. All this information suggests that small sided games represent a valid aerobic training stimulus.

   In modern football, players may be required to play up to ~50 games over a season, and it is important to maximize the limited time available for training. Under these circumstances, the match analysis data could be useful for examining the physical demands of match play and then designing specific game-related training drills based on the players’ needs (ie, technical, tactical and physical). For example, central defenders cover less total distance and perform less high intensity running than players in other positions. In contrast, the decline in high-intensity running with ball possession is greater for attackers and external midfielders, most likely as a result of their increased high-intensity exercise and shorter recovery periods between intense bouts. Furthermore, central midfielders complete a higher percentage of explosive sprints whereas attackers and fullbacks perform more leading sprints. Finally, although each tactical role is characterized by a typical activity profile, large individual variations in work profile are evident within the same playing position. Thus, it is important that the type and the amount of high-intensity football training are specific to the competitive demands of match play.

Referenced By:
F. Marcello Iaia, Ermanno Rampinini, and Jens Bangsbo

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Aerobic High-Intensity training for Soccer

The demand of exercise as a means of acquiring health-related fitness spawned the form of exercise known as 'aerobics'. Its popularity developed alongside 'sport for all' campaigns and health-promotion drives to participation physical training for recreational purposes. It was recognized that exercise programmes, especially when combined with dietary regimens, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders and aid recovery from circulatory problems.

Here are two methods of High-intensity aerobic training and some fundamentals of it. Having a look on it, we will come to know how it helps in soccer and why it has importance in training.

Effect of Training Without the Ball
In a series of studies, soccer players undertook 8 to 12 wk of aerobic high-intensity training consisting of 4 x 4-min running intervals (at an exercise intensity corresponding to 90 to 95% of HRmax) separated by 3 min of active recovery (60% to 70% of HRmax) performed twice a week. Although the magnitude of changes varied considerably between the interventions, this type of training was effective in improving VO2max (7% to 11%) and running economy (3% to 7%), as well as lowering the blood lactate accumulation during sub maximal running. The time to complete a soccer-specific circuit and the distance covered in the YYIR test level 1 improved by 14 and 13%, respectively. In agreement, Sporis told that 13 wk of short intense running bouts combined with technical drills increased VO2max (+5.2%) and performance time over several distances (between 200 and 2400 m).

English: Elio Castro at a soccer training in C...
Match running performance was also examined in some of these studies. For example, Impellizzeri reported an increased total distance (6.4%) and high intensity running (22.8%) covered during a game after the first 4 wk of aerobic high-intensity training. However, caution must be taken when interpreting game data because a number of factors influence performance during match play. Since most of these studies were conducted during the early preseason period, it is difficult to determine the independent effects of the high-intensity training beyond the normal adaptations associated with early preseason training. Furthermore, no additional physiological and performance improvements were observed when the training was extended for another 8 wk during the competitive season.

Effect of Training with the Ball
The effect of performing high-intensity training through football-specific exercises, such as small-sided games, has also been examined. A number of studies have shown that it is possible to achieve an elevated exercise intensity using the ball as demonstrated by elevated heart rates, marked blood lactate accumulations, and high rate of perceived exertions. In three studies, football players performed two weekly sessions of aerobic
high-intensity training consisting of 4 x 4 min at 90% to 95% HRmax for 8 to 10 wk with 3 min of recovery either using small-sided games or soccer dribbling around a specific track. Significant improvements in VO2max (7% to 9%) and running economy (3% to 10%) were observed irrespective of whether the training was performed before, during, or immediately after the competitive season. Specifically, Impellizzeri compared the effect of training with (using small sided games) and without the ball and reported that both exercise modes were equally effective in improving a number of physiological measures (eg, VO2max, velocity at the lactate threshold, running economy) and physical performance during a game. Although the improvements observed in physical performance during the match (eg, sprint and high-intensity running) were not different between general and specific training, it cannot be ruled out that differences may have existed. Unfortunately, only one game was examined before and after the training period and technical aspects of the match (eg, quality of passes, involvement with the ball, and time at high-intensity spent with ball possession) were not evaluated. Such technical indices can discriminate between the most and the least successful teams and may have been more positively influenced by small-sided games training.

   It is possible that the overall effect of training with small-sided games is greater for football-specific performance. In this case, after 7 wk of preseason preparation involving two 20- to 40-min weekly sessions of small-sided games, junior elite soccer players improved their YYIR test level 1 performance by 17% despite unaltered VO2max values. The training time spent above 90% of HRmax was ~40% less than that reported by Impellizzeri. However, this argument requires further scientific evidence. Soccer players do not always have the time to perform high-intensity training sessions twice per week, especially during the competitive period. Jensen examined the effect of one in-season 30-min aerobic high-intensity training session and observed 15% improvements in the YYIR level 2 (from 850 to 950 m) and a 21% reduced decrements during a repeated sprint test after a 12-wk training intervention. Apparently, 30 min of aerobic high-intensity training performed once a week was sufficient to improve football-specific intermittent exercise performance in elite players during the competitive season. However, additional more-controlled studies are needed.
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Friday, 23 November 2012

First Touch in Soccer

In Soccer, to be in control of the ball is of great importance to every level of player. The ability to control an awkward bouncing ball quickly and effectively gives the player with the ball the immediate advantage. First touch is often the difference between success and failure in most situations during the match.

As the game of soccer progresses in more competitive levels the speed of play also increases. This means that first touch is critical for these players. As players get older, the game gets faster, and demands more speed. At this level, there is a greater need for first-time passes and a precise first touch on the ball. Often, players cannot always play a first-time ball; therefore, they must trap the ball, or may have to dribble if no teammates are in position to receive a first-time pass.

Deutsch: Dribbling beim Fußball.

Time and space go hand-in-hand in soccer. The less time a player takes to do something, the more time they will have to take advantage of it. Typically when controlling a ball, a player will do one of three things after controlling the ball: shield the ball by putting their body between the ball and the opponent, pass (or shoot) the ball; or they will dribble the ball. The space and time they have to do these things will depend on how good the player’s first touch is when receiving the ball.

First touch is the key
While practice can do wonders for teaching you how to handle the ball from the moment it touches your feet, here are a few basic concepts to keep in mind whether you are a newbie to the position just learning this vital skill or a veteran working on improving your team’s offensive play.

1. Take control immediately.
You cannot afford even a second of hesitation. Your first touch should be taking control of the ball; your second touch should be proactive, moving the ball where it needs to go.

2. Aim toward your goal as a default.
When you don’t know where to go, start moving the ball toward your goal. You can then think about what you are going to do next. This practice prevents that moment of hesitation that can lose games, and moving a ball toward the goal is rarely a bad idea. Unless the ball is under pressure, in which case…

3. Steer the ball away from the opposing team.
It seems intuitive, but many players panic at this moment and try to get through the opposition. Go around the crowd, go away from the crowd, go anywhere except into the crowd.

4. When under pressure, pass.
If the opposing team is moving in on you from all different sides, you likely won’t get very far with the ball. The best option in this case is usually to pass the ball to the nearest open teammate. It’s important to make this decision and execute early, before you are completely surrounded.

5. Follow through.
Once you have committed to a course of action, don’t be intimidated. Follow through unless there is a compelling reason not to. However….

6. Be flexible.
If the play you originally envisioned is clearly not going to work out, switch to Plan B immediately. Don’t waste another second on a strategy that won’t yield results.

7. Shoot, if you can.
Sometimes a window for a goal opens up just as the ball hits your feet. If you see this, go for it! Every second you hesitate is a second that the opposing team is noticing that same window and working toward closing it.

8. Use your body to protect the ball.
If you intend to keep possession of the ball, even for a second, direct your body so you are always directly behind the ball. This may take some fancy footwork, but, after all, this is soccer.

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Physiological Requirements of Soccer

Soccer(Football) is an intermittent sport characterized by ~1200 acyclical and unpredictable changes in activity (each every 3 to 5 s) involving, among others, 30 to 40 sprints, more than 700 turns, and 30 to 40 tackles and jumps. In addition, the game requires other intense actions such as decelerations, kicking, dribbling, and tackling. All these efforts exacerbate the physical strain imposed on the players and contribute to making soccer highly physiologically demanding. Computerized time motion and semiautomatic video-based system analyses have revealed that top-class football players perform 2 to 3 km of high-intensity running (>15 km/h) and ~0.6 km of sprinting (>20 km/h).Furthermore, these distances of running and sprinting are, respectively, 28% and 58% greater than those of moderate level professional players. In addition, the less successful teams exhibit greater decrements in the total sprint distance covered during the match, suggesting that the ability to perform high-intensity activities throughout a game is very important.

Each playing position is characterized by its own activity profile and different tactical requirements in relation to the movement of the ball. Central defenders cover less total distance and high-intensity running, while attackers complete more sprints and a greater portion of high-intensity activity when their own team is in possession of the ball than midfielders and defenders.

LionsXII vs Kelantan FA

During the second half of a match, the total distance and high-intensity running decline markedly, with the amount of high-intensity running 20% to 40% lower in the last 15 min of the game compared with the initial 15-min period. A greater decrements in running is observed when more activity is performed in the first half. Furthermore, in the 5 min following the most demanding 5-min period of the game, the distance covered at high intensity is reduced by 6% to 12% compared with the game average. Collectively, these results indicate that players experience fatigue toward the end of a match and temporarily during a game. Accordingly, both single and repeated-sprint test performances are impaired after a high-intensity period during as well as at the end of the game. Fatigue may also have a negative impact on passing precision, with the less fit players showing a more pronounced deterioration in technical performance. It appears that modern soccer is physically demanding and players need a high fitness level to cope with the energy demands of the game.
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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Soccer as an Art

Followers of soccer frequently criticize the game as lacking creativity and flair. Some critics may go so far as to blame use of scientific methods by soccer teams for lack of entertainment. Underlying these points is the fact that soccer at top level has an obligation to entertain the viewing public but financial rewards to the players depend on their securing victory. Consequently fear of failure to win may motivate players to err on the side of caution and emphasize defence rather than attack. The negative emphasis on preventing the opposition from playing to its strength may leave the ‘fans’ disenchanted.

The coach and trainer may use scientific information to avoid errors and to maximizethe chances of preparing the team well. The style of play and choice of tactics are judgements made by the coach on the basis of the best available information about his own team, the opposition and the playing conditions. The scientific support may be utilized to guide the right course for the practitioner and so in no sense is science taking over control of the game.

The professional soccer player is comparable with the actor in that hours of practice or rehearsal underpin the preparation for public performance. The expertise of the player or actor is judged largely on a subjective basis by a critical audience or attendance of the public event.

Español: Diego Armando Maradona, en el partido...

That soccer itself is an art rather than a science is exemplified by the craft of great players like Johann Cruyff or Brazil’s Romario, the guile of Diego Maradona or Franco Baresi. The game is aleatory and is partly determined by chance. This uncertainty of outcome is part of its appeal.

A scientific approach towards preparation for play can nevertheless enhance the enjoyment of both players and spectators. It can achieve this by enabling the team to play to its potential. This realization of possibilities can apply to the recreational player participating for pleasure, or the professional playing for material reward. It can apply to the parents gaining satisfaction from watching talented offspring at play or to the home supporter whose zeal may border on prejudice. It is this microcosm that is subjected to scientific scrutiny in the chapters that follow.
Science and Soccer
By: Thomas Reilly
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Monday, 19 November 2012

Training for Endurance in Soccer

Over the last couple of years we have been collecting information on the fitness of youth soccer players and it tells us a great deal about the type of training being conducted at the club level. We test for speed, jumping power, anaerobic capacity, endurance and agility. What is most evident is that the endurance aspect of training for soccer needs more emphasis.

Why is endurance so important in soccer? This isn’t a distance running event; soccer is a bunch of 10-50 yard runs. But remember, all those runs add up. And don’t forget that while endurance builds up the ability to run long and hard, it also improves the ability to recover between runs which is likely the most important benefit of having high levels of endurance. But players don’t have to hit the streets to improve endurance.

France contesting a match against Portugal at ...

To understand the importance of endurance, consider work out of Norway, Eastern Europe and Milwaukee. In Norway, the endurance of the first-place team was over 10% greater than that of the last-place team. In Eastern Europe, final placings could just about be predicted based on their endurance test results. Over several years in Milwaukee, the final points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw) for a college team were correlated with endurance; the greater the endurance, the more points. Strength, power, speed and agility are not as predictive of final success.

The fitness tests were given to U12-U18 Classic players and the levels of endurance were not appreciably different between ages, especially in the girls. Among the boys, there is a jump from U13 to U14, but not much change from there on. This indicates that the bulk of the training is focused on technique and tactics.
So, a few questions about training need to be asked.
1. How do we train for endurance in soccer?

Endurance can be increased using interval training, i.e. manipulate the work/rest interval. Therefore, increase the intensity of training (work) and decrease the recovery (rest) periods. Remember the demands of the game and direct training toward that. Lots of shorter, higher intensity runs, but limit the rest periods.

A drill that is two minutes of work and two minutes of rest is too much rest in soccer. Also, remember that the most intense aspect of soccer is dribbling. So to increase intensity and decrease rest, make the sides smaller (e.g. 3v3, 4v4) which keeps the players more involved in the play.

To increase the volume of running in training games, make the field of play larger. Instead of 4v4 in the penalty area, play the game in twice the size of the penalty area.

2. How often should intensity be a focus in training?

Three days per week is a good figure. You have to assume that the game itself is a training stimulus. So, 1-2 sessions with some emphasis on fitness would be appropriate. In many cases, games are on the weekend and training is Tuesday and Thursday. So, each practice should have some fitness component.

Don’t train for fitness on successive days. They need either a day of rest or low-intensity training.

3. How much each session?

No more than one third (1/3) of any training session needs to be devoted to high intensity work. So if training is 90 minutes, plan on about 20-30 minutes being directed to fitness. These need not be successive minutes. Two or three 10-minute segments of high intensity training are better than one long segment.

4. How can I modify practice to push fitness?

Economical training means to train two of the three factors of play (fitness, technique, or tactics) at the same time. So, let’s say you play a game that requires wing play (tactics). Do this for a while, then require a 10-yard sprint after each pass (fitness).

Or make the game faster by playing two-touch, or require a player to beat an opponent with the dribble prior to passing (technique), or combine two or more restrictions (5v5 wing play, beat a player dribbling, then sprint 10 yards after passing). Play this for 10-15 minutes and you have had a good hard segment.

5. What must I be concerned about?

First, after the hard segment, give the players a rest period. Second, in high intensity training, more is not better. Excessive high intensity training can lead to injury, over-reaching or over training. Third, don’t start training with the hard segment, build up to it, break, then build up to it again.

Report by
Dr. Don Kirkendall
U.S. Soccer Sports Medicine Committee
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How to Head the Ball in Soccer

Youth soccer leagues generally do not allow players to hit the soccer ball with their heads. Older players can use their heads to change the direction of the ball, make a pass and even shoot the ball to the goal. Hitting the ball effectively with your head will take many hours of practice, but be sure to keep practice times short to protect yourself from possible injury.

A. Learn the Types of Headers in Soccer

1. Use the directional header to control where the ball will go after it comes in contact with your head. To do this, you'll need to hit the soccer ball with the middle of your forehead or just at your hairline.

2. Learn the clearing header, which involves hitting the ball with your forehead as hard as possible to keep it away from defenders. While this method is great for getting out of a tight jam, it can result in the other team getting control of the ball.

3. Be moderate in your practice of headers to avoid potential head injuries.

B. Practice Heading the Ball in Soccer

Rochdale Town v Blackpool Town

  • Try balancing the soccer ball on your forehead without letting it drop to the ground.
  • Try to look at the ball as you balance it on your forehead to get used to the position the ball should be in when it hits your head.
  • Hold the ball in both hands and lift the ball about 6 inches above your forehead.
  • Bend your legs slightly before releasing the ball and push up as the soccer ball comes in contact with your head.
  • Keep your eye on the ball as it drops on to your forehead.
  • Bounce the soccer ball off your forehead and straight up in the air.
  • Move the ball farther from your head as you drop the ball from your hands onto your forehead.
  • Practice hitting the ball higher and higher each time you drop the ball onto your forehead.
  • Try bouncing the ball repeatedly on your forehead without catching it with your hands in between bounces.
  • Throw the ball into the air and try bouncing the ball with your forehead. Remember to look at the ball as it comes in contact with your head.
  • Ask a friend to help you practice once you've mastered hitting it after throwing it in the air yourself. Your friend can kick the ball in the air and let you try to hit it with your forehead. The ball will be coming from a different direction and at a new angle, which may provide you with more of a challenge.
Tips & Warnings
  • Start heading the soccer ball with the softest ball you can find or deflate your regular ball slightly so it does not hit your head hard. The more you head the ball, the more your head will get used to the pounding. Eventually, you can work up to a fully inflated, regulation ball.
  • Extensive heading the ball has been shown to cause some amount of brain damage in medical studies. Avoid using headers until you've reached at least U-10 level.

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Sunday, 18 November 2012

How to Make a Defensive Header in Soccer

The ability to head the ball defensively is a massively important skill to have, not just for defenders, but also for attacking players, too. There are, however, a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that soccer players are able to perform this vital skill as well as possible. The more players on a team that can perform a good defensive header, the more difficult it becomes for the other team to score, both in the run of play and from set-pieces

The position where a player is most commonly required to make a defensive header is center-back. However, even a striker may be called upon to do so, if he is back defending a corner for instance. So it is important that whatever position you play in, the art of defensive heading is mastered.

Very young players (and some older ones!) can be reluctant to head the ball for fear of getting hurt. They will often close their eyes and let it land on their head, rather than attacking the ball. It is therefore helpful, if you are teaching a youngster how to head, to practice with a soft ball at first. Most defensive headers are performed with the aid of a jump, but if unopposed, they can be made from a standing position.


Step : 1
See the flight of the ball. Is the ball coming at you, or across your body? Judging the flight and pace of the ball is very important for defensive headers. If the ball is coming towards you, then it is wise to drop backwards in order to make sure the ball doesn't go over your head. If it's coming across you, it is important to arch your run towards the ball.

Step : 2
Get your body in line with the flight path of the ball. This means that once you have realized the path the ball is taken, the body has to then be moved to be able to intercept the flight of the ball. This is easy when the ball is coming at you, but a little more difficult when defending crosses. For crosses, the principle is the same, but it requires better judgment.

Step :  3
Attack the ball as it arrives. Make sure you contact the ball as it is coming down. This is enhanced by ensuring that the ball is contacted at the highest point of your jump. Jump into the flight of the ball as it comes down.

Step :  4
Arch your back and gain power in the header from the hips, not the neck. This will generate more power, and is also a safer way to head the ball. Head the ball with the center of the forehead, not the top of the head. The ball should be contacted on the bottom half of the ball.

Step :  5
Eyes open, mouth closed. Keep your mouth closed so as not to bite your tongue, and eyes open to see the ball arriving and so as not to contact the ball with the nose. Watch the ball leave your head and clear away. Once the ball is headed out, it is usually prudent to follow the ball out in order to apply defensive pressure should it fall to an opponent.

Tips & Warnings
  • Defensive clearances should be high, wide and long. This is no different for headers.
  • Use elbows to create space around your body.
  • Land correctly, making sure to have some bend in the knee when you contact the ground.
  • Sometimes it can help to call out that you are going for the ball, to allow your team-mates time to get out of the way.
  • Do not head the ball with the top of the head. This can be painful and dangerous.
  • Do not use your elbows to hurt opposition players during your jump. This is dangerous and against the rules.
  • Never spend too long practicing headers during a session. 10-15 minutes should suffice for repetitive heading drills.
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Saturday, 17 November 2012

How to Make an Attacking Header in Soccer

One of the most inspiring plays to see in a soccer game is a great header by an attacking player. That attacker might make the perfect attacking header to either place the ball in the goal, or lead a teammate on a breakaway.

American soccer player Eddie Lewis directs the...

The attacking header really contributes a lot in gaining possession, playing with high momentum in the field and allowing players to gain confidence for playing in the air. Attacking header also allow players to focus on target as well as remaining alert for a ball to come over it and get it first before the opponent, specially when it is in the air or in such situations where kicking is not a suitable option.


Step : 1
Get clear of your opposition. Some of the most outstanding headers by an attacker you see on television are usually ones with an opponent right next to them. Remember, most of the players you see on television are professionals. If you are not a professional you should not attempt difficult headers with an opponent guarding you closely.

Step : 2
Use your legs. One of the biggest assets an attacker attempting an attacking header in soccer has is their legs. The higher up in the air you can get the less of a chance an opponent will get the ball before you do. When preparing to make an attacking header in soccer, you should plant your legs and bend your knees before leaping to make the header.

Step : 3
Practice your timing. Timing is everything when making an attacking header in soccer. Your goal is to reach the ball as high up as you can, while keeping your body under control. If you head the ball at the apex of your jump you will have your highest level of control over your body. If you have to "hang" in the air, or start to descend before playing the ball with your head you will have less body control than at the apex of your jump.

Step : 4
Keep your eyes open when making an attacking header in soccer. Too often players will close their eyes when making an attacking header. This makes no sense. Remember a soccer ball can be affected by the spin on the ball and the wind. If you just assume you have guessed the trajectory of the ball correctly you will not be effective making an attacking header. Also by closing your eyes you will lose track of your teammates and opponents.

Step : 5
Hit the ball with your forehead to direct the ball parallel to your head or at an angle towards the ground. Popping the ball up higher in the air with your head reduces or eliminates any control of the path of the soccer ball that you have. It also gives your opponents more time to react. A header struck towards the ground at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees is the most effective way to hit an attacking header in soccer.

Tips & Warnings
  • Headers can be highlight reel type maneuvers, but at the same time they are hard to perform accurately. If you do not have to make an attacking header, it is best to control the ball using another method.
  • Be very careful when attempting an attacking header with an opponent in the vicinity. If the referee determines you are doing this without proper body control you could receive a yellow card if contact occurs between you and the opponent. Multiple yellow cards for this could result in a red card.
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Friday, 16 November 2012

Types of Heading in Soccer

Heading is vital for dominating the game in air. Having good heading ability will help you dominate in the front of both six yard boxes. You will also be able to score more often at the corner kicks. In Soccer, heading techniques are very important for air game. The team that dominates in the air can win the ball in the danger zone in front of the six yard box both when defending and attacking, and that team can win the ball from goal kicks and long driven balls across the field. Individual heading skills can empower a team to use the long ball tactic to pin down the opposition with long passes towards their penalty area.

With your heading skills your team can use the long ball tactic and completely bombard your opponents with long passes towards their penalty area.The correct part of the head to use is the forehead. This is the hardest and flattest part of your head, and it will give you better control over where you want to make the ball go as well as giving greater power.

MO Class 3 Boys Soccer Semifinal

As with every other soccer skill, learning how to head a ball properly may take you some time to learn. We often see our young soccer players who can play the ball well on the ground, but are clueless when the ball is played in the air. Often the problem is a fear of getting hurt, but once they learn to head the ball properly using the forehead, there is no danger. Players should learn to head the ball with soft balls at the early ages and slowly be introduced to the soccer ball.Remember to keep your focus on improving your heading skills every practice. If you do that, you will soon notice some great results in your heading skills.

Types of Headers

There are certain types of heading used while playing in the field. All are very much important as they can surely win you the ball possession and helps in controlling during narrow situations when kicking is not suitable. Defensive headers, attacking headers, diving headers, and the knock-on (flick)are among them.

Attacking Header

This header is used to score goals.


1. Look at the ball.
Look at the ball through this entire process. This allow you to perform a header more efficiently.

2. Plant your feet.
This will give you the full power necessary to easily put the ball past the goalkeeper.

03. Lean back.
When you lean back you are building momentum, much like you do when bringing your foot back to shoot. 

4. Jump (optional)
If the ball is too high for you, perform a jumping header.

5. Move your head forward quickly.

The faster you head the ball, the more power you can generate. When you head the ball, use your forehead. Note: all other headers follow these basic principles. When learning other types of headers in the guide, continue to do this.

Flick-On Header
The flick-on is where you pass the ball behind you using your head. This is great for using on throw-ins and many other ways.


1. Let the ball pass over your head.

2. Flick you head up.

If you do it correctly, the ball will hit the back of your head and go behind you.
Diving Soccer Header
The diving header is considered one of the greatest plays in soccer. You will not use this often, but it is still good to know. You never know what will come at you when the game is on the line.


1. Dive into the ball. Your momentum will power the ball into the net. Warning: make sure people aren’t going to kick you when you dive.

2. Land on your arms.

The fall can hurt, and I recommend only doing a little in a training session. A great way to train is to practice them on the beach.

Glancing Soccer Header
You can use this header to direct the soccer ball. It is perfect for faking out the goalie.

1. Look at the area of the ball like you would a shot.

Heading the right of the ball will move the ball to the left. Heading it to the left will make the ball go right.

2. Flick you head in the direction you want the ball to go.

The ball will not have as much power, but it should easily fake out the goalie. You can also use this to pass the ball to a teammate.

Defensive Soccer Header
The point of this header is to clear the ball out. Use this header to send the ball high and as far away from the goal as you can.


1. Look at the bottom of the ball

Hitting the bottom of the ball with your head will help send the ball upward.

2. Head the ball.

You should use the top of your forehead, and head the ball as hard as you can. There should be no holding back on a defensive header

Techniques to perform heading
There are different types of header techniques. With every technique the ball can be directed by body turns.

1. Header from a standing position
The header from a standing position is technically the easiest type, but provides you with the most important basics of all header types. 
  • Watch the trajectory of the ball.
  • Right position to the ball.
  • Gain momentum by tightening the upper part of your body backwards.
  • The eyes are open.
  • Fix your neck.
  • Press the chin on your chest.
  • Jump ahead with your body. Hit the ball with the right timing, not too far in front or in the back of the upper part of the body.
  • Hit the ball with the whole forehead.
  • If you want to change the direction of the ball, change the upper part of the body in the respective direction before heading

2. Header after jumping with both feet
This type is technically much more challenging than the header from a standing position. Especially the right timing is often a problem. It can be performed by using the following motion sequence
  • Watch the trajectory of the ball.
  • Right position to the ball.
  • Jump dynamically.
  • Gaining momentum for the jump is supported by using both arms.
  • The jump goes upwards and not forward.
  • The upper part of the body and the lower leg are tightened backwards (bow tension).
  • The eyes are open.
  • Fix your neck.
  • Press the chin on your chest.
  • Hit the ball on the highest point.
  • Hit the ball with the whole forehead.
  • If you want to change the direction of the ball, change the upper part of the body in the respective direction before heading. The turn can also be done whilst jumping, but also in the air.

3. Heading after jumping with one foot
The performance of a header after jumping using just one foot is always done out of running motion. It’s difficult and requires a lot of drill to control your body in the air. Furthermore, the right timing isn’t as easy to implement as by jumping with both feet. The header after jumping with just one foot can be performed much more dynamically. The player reaches a much higher jumping height and therefore gets much more pressure behind the ball.
  • Watch the trajectory of the ball.
  • Run dynamically towards the ball.
  • Jump with one foot.
  • Support the jumping foot by slightly bending the playing foot.
  • Support the jump by using both arms.
  • Try to jump very high and not too far forward.
  • Gain more momentum by tightening the upper part of your body backwards.
  • The eyes are open.
  • Fix your neck.
  • Press the chin on your chest.
  • Jump ahead with your body.
  • Hit the ball on the highest point.
  • Hit the ball with the whole forehead.
  • If you want to change the direction of the ball, change the upper part of the body dynamically in the respective direction before heading. Support the direction change by a respective motion of your head.

4. Diving Header
The diving header is a dramatic action in a soccer match and therefore very popular. After controlling the basics of the header technique, the execution is relatively easy. All you need is a little bit of courage to let yourself drop from large height. The diving header can be performed from a standing position and out of a running motion. The use of the diving header makes sense, if a match situation needs to be clarified (goal, heading the ball out of the danger zone). Attention: Injuries are possible if there are other opponent players around.
  • Watch the trajectory of the ball. 
  • Run dynamically towards the ball.
  • Jump with both feet.
  • Fix your neck.
  • Stretch your neck upwards.
  • Hit the ball with the whole forehead.
  • Catch your body with your hands.
  • If you want to change the direction of the ball, change the upper part of the body dynamically in the respective direction before heading. Support the direction change by a respective motion of your head. The result is some kind of “snake motion” in the air.
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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Heading in Soccer

During any soccer match there will be many different situations when players will be in position of hitting soccer ball with head to either score a goal, intercept a pass or knock the ball out of the danger zone and in some cases out of play.

Knowing the right technique for heading and practicing it over and over again can make any player confident and dangerous during a soccer match, be it defending or attacking.

Heading in soccer can be dangerous but using the right technique and proper use of our body will add to soccer head protection during any areal duel where we go up in the air to head the soccer ball.

Knowing how to position your body and head the soccer ball while being aware of your surroundings at any time during the soccer/football match is crucial for any good player.

Having the height advantage helps but it does not necessarily mean that being tall makes a great heading player, height can be a huge advantage to heading the soccer ball, however learning the proper technique is what makes any player dangerous in the air, short or tall.

The biggest problem with learning to head the soccer ball with the right technique is the fear of ball striking below our forehead and into our face so we end up striking the soccer ball with the top part of our head which ends up hurting and giving us even more fear the next time we are found in a situation where we have the opportunity to head the soccer ball.

Winning Heading Duels
Heading duels are among the most dramatic moments in a soccer game. There is a huge potential for either gaining footing - or losing it. This is without doubt one of the most important skills for any soccer player, as heading can make all the difference in both your game and the team’s success.

If every 50-50 ball is going to your team, that is a lot of potential scores. Here is a concrete, step-by-step plan for success.

1. Determine the ball’s line of flight and put yourself in its path--almost. You will want to be just a foot or so back from the expected point of impact to allow for forward movement. If possible, keep the ball in your sight at all times and try to stay ahead of opponents.

2. Time your positioning so that you can take a step forward and jump to make contact with the ball. This will give you more momentum and therefore, a higher jump and a more solid attack. You would be surprised at the difference a step can make.

3. As you jump, put out your elbows and arms to keep competition back and away. Raising your arms too dramatically may cause a penalty to be called, but simply keeping your arms slightly to the back and away from your body with flexed elbows should go a long way toward asserting your space without causing a problem.

4. Keeping your eyes focused on the ball, head the ball to your desired destination. If possible, head the ball with the area just above your eyes. Using your lower forehead will not only give you greater control over the ball, but reduce the risk of injury as well. As a bonus, this allows you to keep your eyes on the ball through the point of contact.

5. Remember form. It’s important that you use good heading form in heading duels, however difficult it may be in the high pressure, low reaction time situation. After all, the point is not so much to take possession of the ball as it is to give possession of the ball to another member of your team. Using good form will ensure good control and prevent the more common injuries.