Limit set on headers in training in England

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July 28, 2021
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    Burnley's Chris Wood battles for a header with Luke Ayling of Leeds UnitedBurnley's Chris Wood battles for a header with Luke Ayling of Leeds United during a Premier League game

    Professional footballers in England are to be limited to 10 "higher force headers" a week in training under new guidelines for the upcoming season.

    It comes after recent "multiple studies" were conducted into concerns about the long-term dangers of heading.

    In 2019, a study found professional footballers were more likely to suffer from neurodegenerative brain disease.

    Guidance for amateurs is "10 headers per session and only one session a week where heading practice is included".

    • Dementia: Does heading a football cause the disease?

    It comes after an MPs' inquiry earlier in July said that sport has been allowed to "mark its own homework" on reducing the risks of brain injury.

    "The preliminary studies identified the varying forces involved in heading a football, which were provided to a cross-football working group to help shape the guidance," said a joint statement on behalf of the Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers Association.

    "Based on those early findings, which showed the majority of headers involve low forces, the initial focus of the guidance [for professional football] will be on headers that involve higher forces.

    "These are typically headers following a long pass (more than 35m) or from crosses, corners and free-kicks.

    "It will be recommended that a maximum of 10 higher force headers are carried out in any training week.

    "This recommendation is provided to protect player welfare and will be reviewed regularly as further research is undertaken to understand more regarding the impact of heading in football."

    Research into football and head trauma has shown professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die from dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.

    The Premier League introduced a trial of additional permanent concussion substitutions in February, while the FA introduced head injury substitutes into the FA Cup in February.

    Children aged 11 and are no longer taught to head footballs during training in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while FA guidelines for coaches also puts limits on how much heading older children should do.

    The new guidance for amateur football is for clubs "up to and including step five of the National League system and tier three and below of the women's football pyramid, and is specifically tailored for this level of the game".

    "Our heading guidance now reaches across all players, at all levels of the game," said FA chief executive Mark Bullingham.

    "We are committed to further medical research to gain an understanding of any risks within football. In the meantime, this reduces a potential risk factor.

    "It is important to remember that the overwhelming medical evidence is that football and other sports have positive impacts on both mental and physical health."

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    412 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • S

      Comment posted by Sludgy65, today at 11:25

      When will they ban boxing then??????7714

      • R

        Reply posted by rooster booster, today at 11:35

        "When will they ban boxing then??????"rooster booster replied: you can ban boxing.it will not stop violence though252

      More replies (11)

    • S

      Comment posted by Sludgy65, today at 11:23

      And who exactly is counting?? ‘Oh no David, you headed the ball 12 times this week, better cut down to 8 next week’ – Completely unmanageable.6810

      • B

        Reply posted by blue, today at 11:26

        "And who exactly is counting?? ‘Oh no David, you headed the ball 12 times this week, better cut down to 8 next week’ – Completely unmanageable."blue replied: VAR will if you head the ball more then 10 times utd will get a penalty haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa it won’t no longer be goal difference it’ll be least headers1220

      More replies (6)

    • A

      Comment posted by Alan, today at 11:14

      None of us are scientists, so not helpful to speculate on the impact or otherwise of the lighter balls they play with today.

      We won’t really know the real outcome of heading these lighter balls for probably 20 years or so – it’s a very difficult issue, we don’t want to change the fabric of the game, but we must also show the necessary due diligence to protect players including children.5213

      • W

        Reply posted by WIthrespect, today at 11:21

        "None of us are scientists, so not helpful to speculate on the impact or otherwise of the lighter balls they play with today. We won’t really know the real outcome of heading these lighter balls for probably 20 years or so – it’s a very difficult issue, we don’t want to change the fabric of the game, but we must also show the necessary due diligence to protect players including children."WIthrespect replied: No No No. We should protect Children agreed but it’s people like you that make society the way it is.

        Where is the evidence that heading a ball causes dementia? I have played as a center half for over 20 years and have no issues2698

      More replies (17)

    • W

      Comment posted by WSV, today at 11:07

      The legend that was Brian Clough once said that, ‘If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there.’

      So maybe we should have more of an emphasis on passing to feet, rather than lumping the ball skywards?

      It is called football after all.3210

      • C

        Reply posted by ComradPravda, today at 12:00

        "The legend that was Brian Clough once said that, ‘If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there.’So maybe we should have more of an emphasis on passing to feet, rather than lumping the ball skywards?It is called football after all."ComradPravda replied: Then bought two center backs to head the ball whenever it came their way and so won 2 European Cups. ;-)145

      More replies (3)

    • D

      Comment posted by DannyOB1990, today at 11:18

      I’d recommend people watch Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me.
      After a session of heading the ball his memory and other skills were worse than before the session. Imagine doing that every day and that’s why it becomes a long term health issue.
      Also, old footballs were lighter than ones made today, what made them heavier was they absorbed water but modern footballs don’t.3616

      • B

        Reply posted by bushmaster80, today at 11:40

        "I’d recommend people watch Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me.After a session of heading the ball his memory and other skills were worse than before the session. Imagine doing that every day and that’s why it becomes a long term health issue.Also, old footballs were lighter than ones made today, what made them heavier was they absorbed water but modern footballs don’t."bushmaster80 replied: Wow, one session? How scientific.

        If that was the case, his ‘skills’ must have kept deteriorating every week since he became a professional, aged 17 – which of course, is nonsense.1926

      More replies (9)

    • G

      Comment posted by GrumpyOldMan, today at 11:12

      A lot of comments here about lighter balls etc. I used to think the same but seen a clip (probably on this website) where they studied the impact on the brain and there wasn’t much difference, more the act and force of your heading rather than what you were heading…..or something like that.247

      • S

        Reply posted by SteH11, today at 11:26

        "A lot of comments here about lighter balls etc. I used to think the same but seen a clip (probably on this website) where they studied the impact on the brain and there wasn’t much difference, more the act and force of your heading rather than what you were heading…..or something like that."SteH11 replied: The people who are crying right now about “the death of football” are the same ones who cried when shin pads were introduced!!

        Give them a couple of weeks and they’ll get over it. Snowflakes!3917

      More replies (9)

    • D

      Comment posted by Don Cossack, today at 11:22

      They’ll tell people to stop going out for runs one day… it increases the risk of knee and ankle injuries.3420

      • K

        Reply posted by KLOPP OUT, today at 11:41

        "They’ll tell people to stop going out for runs one day… it increases the risk of knee and ankle injuries."KLOPP OUT replied: This is simply an escape goat for poor heading technique. 🤚525

      More replies (13)

    • 1

      Comment posted by 147break, today at 11:25

      Where do I apply for a job as the person who counts who many headers each player has done in a week ?174

      • B

        Reply posted by Bodie, today at 13:05

        "Where do I apply for a job as the person who counts who many headers each player has done in a week ?"Bodie replied: My mum died from Dementia, like millions of others who have died from it she never headed a ball in her 90 years12

    • I

      Comment posted by IJB, today at 10:56

      Good stuff guidance is in place, how about guidance to stop the cheats diving218

      • T

        Reply posted by theprowerwins, today at 10:59

        "Good stuff guidance is in place, how about guidance to stop the cheats diving"theprowerwins replied: Already in the rules , refs just don’t follow them232

      More replies (3)

    • M

      Comment posted by MJF_dodo, today at 11:12

      ‘Duck’ – ‘Don’t challenge for it’ – ‘You’ve got one header left use it wisely’ – ‘Leave it, the next cross will be lower’ – ‘Wait for it to drop’ – ‘Over her son, but not above waist height’2816

      • E

        Reply posted by El_Cuervo, today at 11:36

        "‘Duck’ – ‘Don’t challenge for it’ – ‘You’ve got one header left use it wisely’ – ‘Leave it, the next cross will be lower’ – ‘Wait for it to drop’ – ‘Over her son, but not above waist height’"El_Cuervo replied: It’s utterly absurd. This world is kaput.1517

      More replies (7)

    • J

      Comment posted by James, today at 12:28

      You have to admire the attempt to do something

      But there is literally no science behind this

      How many 1,000’s of players suffer no ill effects are a career and how many do little heading and are permenantly damaged

      Surely the problem is the forces involved and even running on hard ground creates them

      Like C19 – bucket “everyone is the same” approaches cause false security

      More research needed92

      • T

        Reply posted by TheSardinian, today at 12:50

        "You have to admire the attempt to do somethingBut there is literally no science behind thisHow many 1,000’s of players suffer no ill effects are a career and how many do little heading and are permenantly damagedSurely the problem is the forces involved and even running on hard ground creates themLike C19 – bucket “everyone is the same” approaches cause false securityMore research needed"TheSardinian replied: ‘But there is literally no science behind this’

        There have been multiple studies into this, as well as many famous studies in other sports. They are scientific studies30

    • G

      Comment posted by Grouty, today at 11:11

      I know let’s just ban the sport altogether. It’s just so dangerous isn’t it?2013

      • E

        Reply posted by El_Cuervo, today at 11:38

        "I know let’s just ban the sport altogether. It’s just so dangerous isn’t it?"El_Cuervo replied: ban everything. ban going out in case we breathe in fumes. ban life.

        ban the bbc1613

      More replies (6)

    • T

      Comment posted by Traskersslipperbasket , today at 12:31

      Sensible move. Also the number of kicks of the ball each player makes should be restricted in case their ankle get sore93

      • B

        Reply posted by bp24, today at 12:59

        "Sensible move. Also the number of kicks of the ball each player makes should be restricted in case their ankle get sore"bp24 replied: At last the voice of reason.00

      More replies (1)

    • D

      Comment posted by dawn, today at 12:27

      All those tough players from decades ago would laugh their heads off if they could see how soft the game has gone. Soaking wet leather balls with laces protruding were headed without a second thought.93

    • P

      Comment posted by patrick, today at 11:54

      I wonder how much of this research focused on other elements of footballers lifestyles from the 60’s and 70’s that might contribute to dementia? The massive drinking culture for instance. It is also the case that professional footballer tend to retire a lot earlier than the rest of us, might it be that early retirement also contributes to this cognative decline??93

    • C

      Comment posted by Comm83, today at 11:57

      Yeah, don’t go out your house, just stay in, sit down, watch TV and stay safe.

      Absolute nonsense.116

      • S

        Reply posted by SLR, today at 12:58

        "Yeah, don’t go out your house, just stay in, sit down, watch TV and stay safe. Absolute nonsense."SLR replied: Crash barriers are put up along motorways and even cliff edges to guide and warn drivers. You can still die if you are careless or someone careless muppet pushes you through the barriers, but there is less of it because of how we think as a result of the barriers being there.00

    • T

      Comment posted by TheSardinian, today at 11:48

      Surely, this has to be a good thing? Heading will always be part of the game but it makes sense to limit it, especially in training. Anyone who has ever experienced the tragedy of a loved one with dementia will understand, its a truly awful disease. If this helps prevent some cases then surely its a wise decision?72

    • S

      Comment posted by Swalley , today at 11:39

      Alot of the debate has been centred on professional football where the balls and medical experts are of a better quality. There’s been very little on amateur football where the balls can be like kicking/heading a ‘brick’.72

    • N

      Comment posted by northern monkey, today at 11:32

      There will be endless amount of comments here crying foul about a nanny state etc but I actually think this is a good thing. Ok it may set a precedent but that’s also commendable if there are numerous scientifically backed studies to show the dangers and damage that can be done which is easily avoidable by taking sensible precautions. Sam Allerdyce and Tony pullis will be livid however.83

    • D

      Comment posted by Daniel, today at 12:35

      This is very depressing for football and life in general! part of the game that in 10-20 years will be axed… by which time, nobody will be aloud to touch ANYTHING without authority permitting…. Maybe get footballers, those willing, to sign a disclaimer that they acknowledge the dangers (if any) of the sport… Those too wish washy to play it… can instead play something else!!!!51

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