Basic Skills


Heading is an inevitable part of football, both in attack and defence.  If teaching heading, as a general rule, defensive headers should go high, wide and far, while offensive headers should be aimed towards the ground (as ground balls are harder for keepers to handle).  Defenders usually will aim for the bottom half of the ball while attackers usually will aim for the top half.  Initially, of course, it is most important to teach the correct technique (and the courage to use it), so it is not too important where the ball goes.

The key coaching points are:

  • Put feet in a balanced, athletic, ready position with knees bent and weight centered evenly.
  • Keep the neck stiff and lean back.
  • Keep eyes OPEN, and watch the ball until contact!
  • Keep mouth CLOSED to avoid injury!
  • Move head forward towards the ball and contact the ball with the forehead area between hairline and eyebrows.
  • Arms should reach forward as the ball is coming and pull backwards as the head moves forward.
  • Follow through to the target area.
  • If you hit the ball on its bottom half, the ball will go up.
  • If you hit the ball on its upper half, the ball will go down.

Basic heading:

  • The ability to head the ball is a vital skill to have - whatever position you play in.
  • The forehead is the safest and most effective part of the head to use.
  • So get yourself into the best position and get the timing of your headers right.


step 1

As you prepare to jump, it is important to keep your eyes focused on the ball.
Move into the line of flight, and push off with both feet.

step 2

As you jump, generate power by:
  bending the knees
  arching the back
  thrusting your head and body forward on contact
  keeping your neck muscles tensed
Use your arms for balance as you will be off the ground for many of the headers.
Be careful not to raise them too high or wave them around, as you are likely to be penalized by the referee.

step 3

Try to head the ball at the highest point of your jump.
Letting the ball drop will only raise the chances of an opponent beating you in the air.
Head the ball with your forehead, the area directly above your eyebrows.
Be positive as you make contact with the ball, keeping your eyes open.

Defensive headers:

Improve your defensive heading.

In a defensive area, the aim is to head the ball as high and as far away from your goal as possible.
It is better to head the ball out to either side of the goal, rather than into area directly in front of the goal

step 1
Make contact with the bottom half of the ball

Get in line with the ball as quickly as you can - you want to get to it before your opponent.
Try meeting the ball from a side-on position.
This allows you to create more power and will give you better protection against opponents, with less chance of clashing heads.

step 2

Be really careful what you do with your arms.
Any push in the back of an opponent could see a penalty or dangerous free-kick given away.
To power the ball upwards, you need to make contact with the bottom half of the ball.
Arch you’re back so that you can thrust your forehead up into the line of the ball.

Attacking headers:

123 Work on your attacking headers

Work on your attacking headers and you will send fewer chances over the bar, and more into the goal.
The key is to try to head downwards, and the only way to do that is to get over the ball.
Then you can direct the ball down towards the bottom corners, which are the hardest areas for a goalkeeper to defend.

step 1

Get into line with the ball as quickly as possible.
Try to time your run so that you come from behind a defender and get in front of them just as you are meeting the ball.
If the pass - or cross - is deeper, then take a step back away from the defender and create yourself some space that way.
As you are in an attacking area, be really positive in your attempt to win the ball. Remember, the defender has most to lose.4

step 2

Head the ball with your forehead, making contact with the centre or the top half of the ball to send it downwards.
If you make your jump early then you can 'hang' in the air.
And that will make it very difficult for a defender to beat you to the ball without fouling you.