No more heading in youth soccer


Eight year old kids play soccer match organized as a part of Fairfax Police Youth Club Soccer League. Photo by Jarek Tuszynski. (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

According to NBC Sports, the U.S. Soccer Federation banned heading for youths within the ages 10 and under during practices and games for safety reasons.

I am a defender for Rocklin club and for the school freshman soccer team. I use my head to clear the ball from corners and pass the ball using my head all the time. However, I am mature enough to head the ball, so it doesn’t hurt my head as much. I’m also a referee for younger ages and I feel for the children’s safety, heading isn’t necessary because their soccer skills aren’t developed and their style of play is completely different than our style of play at soccer. The kids just kick the ball around and hope the ball goes in the goal.

Kids under 10 shouldn’t be able to head the ball because their bodies are still maturing and getting a head injury can hinder their growth for something stupid like heading the ball. Kids age 11-13 are able to head the ball in practice and age 14 or higher are allowed to head the ball at any time.

Minors not allowed to head the ball is reasonable because kids can get serious head injuries from heading the ball, however I do see the other side because heading is an important part of the game because you are able to pass and score the ball using your head.

The consequences for the players heading the ball is minor. If the referee sees the kids heading the ball during the game, the other team is rewarded a penalty kick if caught heading the ball inside the penalty box or a free kick outside the penalty box. The long term consequences are far worse, kids can get concussions, sub-concussive trauma which can cause neurological consequences that are permanent for the rest of their lives.

Although I see why the other side might think heading is vital for the game of soccer, but think about the young ones because getting a concussion can cause serious head problems and that is not something you want at such a young age.


by Kenichi Watanabe