Most footballers have serious views about heading. Some seem to love it, some can’t get enough it while on the other hand (or head, if you will), some try to avoid it and some downright detest it.
However, the fact that heading is an important part of the on-field football fabric remains unchanged. If you play football, you will be required to head, nay, you will be required to head good.
Heading is not just about accuracy or confidence. It is also about keeping it technical, keeping it real and keeping it safe. After all, meeting a ball travelling at a decent speed with your head means that you will be absorbing and imparting a good deal of momentum through your head and neck – two of the most fragile parts of your body.
Here are five of the most basic tips that will allow you to head freely – without hurting yourself.
Eye Contact – A Necessary Evil
Most players, while starting out in the least, seem to head aimlessly by just throwing their heads around and wishing for a contact. This is a really poor technique that might often leave you with a concussion, not to mention an ineffective header.
The most rudimentary thing you need to remind yourself of before even going for a header is to keep a constant eye contact with the ball. You are allowed to lose the eye contact just before you meet the ball with your head.
Eye contact allows you to avoid injuries and execute a well-directed header.
The Sweet Spot
Heading is made even more risky by the fact that many players don’t know which part of their head needs to be used to meet the ball with.
The commonest mistake is to use the centre of the head. The centre of your head will not allow you to force a shot – it will only let you lodge the ball in the air.
Hence, the sweetest spot that most pros advise for headers is the ‘front of the forehead’ – i.e. where your natural hairline meets your forehead.
This is where you absorb the impact and direct the ball using your neck muscles.
Talk, Talk & Talk
Talking is the most underrated part of playing football. Most players, through exhaustion or ineptitude, seem to ignore what their coaches say about making calls.
While it may certainly hamper on-field results, it may have even worse effects when it comes to heading. Whenever you are going for a header, you need to be loud and clear about your intentions. You certainly don’t want to be meeting an uninformed teammate going with all might for the same header opportunity.
Maintaining balance is the key to converting a good header into an effective header. You need to be in shape while in ascent and descent. While landing, you don’t want to be off balance as you would want to join the on-field action as soon as possible, especially if you are in the close-quarters from the goal.
NEVER Jerk Your Neck Abruptly
It’s understandable that you might be taken by a surprise when a header opportunity presents itself out of nowhere. However, jerking neck muscles abruptly and with surprise is another common reason behind injuries.
What you can do to counter this is to keep yourself ready for a header at all times. If you are mentally prepared for a header, you won’t be taken aback, and your body will follow the suit without much problems.