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.

Instructions

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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