Football Heading Drills

Heading is often a football skill some young players are not keen on. If done badly it will hurt! Try to build up confidence with short easy heading practice to build confidence. Players should head the ball with the middle of their forehead and try to keep their eyes open. Using the nose or the top of the head is going to hurt.

Head Through Gates

The player tries to head the ball through coned gates placed around and behind the players feeding the balls in. More confident players can have the gates smaller or farther away.

AimTo improve attacking and defensive heading techniques

Suitable forU10’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, balls, and cones

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. 3 players act as servers for 1 working player. The 1st server throws the ball and the working player has to make a decision on how to deal with it depending on the flight, height, and speed of the ball. They can either head downwards through gates 3, defensively towards gates 2 or long and high defensively towards gate 1. After 3 attempts rotate working player.

Progressions:

  • Increase/decrease the distance between players, servers and the coned gates
  • Working player to call for the ball
  • Servers throw in a random order
  • Servers to have 3 balls each so working player has 9 attempts before changing

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the player and the server
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it earlier
  • Player to attack the ball for more power

Compete, Head, Cross

Two small teams compete for the ball in different areas aiming to finish with a headed goal.

AimTo improve attacking and defensive heading techniques

Suitable forU11’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, balls, and cones

Organisation: Players set up as shown in diagram. Starting point is in the ‘D’ on the edge of the penalty box. The ball is played into Box 1 where 2 v 2 compete for the ball, whichever team can pass the ball out to box 3 become the attackers. The wide players dribble towards the goal line and cross the ball to box 2 where players are 1 v 1. As soon as play is stopped the server plays another ball in to box 1 and play continues. After 5 plays rotate players.

Progressions:

  • Limit touches
  • Extend box 1 into box 3, box 3 is now out of the penalty area

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the player and the server
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it at the earliest possible time
  • Player to attack the ball using upper back and neck for power

Head To Score

Small sided game where players compete on a small pitch and score only with a header.

AimTo improve attacking heading techniques

Suitable forU11’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, balls, and cones

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. 3 v 3, small goals, no goalkeepers. Small sided possession game. Normal rules apply but players can only score with a header.

To allow for success an area can be marked near each goal where defenders can not go in to so the forward has a free header.

Progressions:

  • Use bigger goals to guarantee success
  • Add goalkeepers

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the players

Near Post, Far Post

Players run into a central area before moving out to head the ball into either the near post or far post.

AimTo improve attacking heading techniques.

Suitable forU11’s and upwards.

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, balls, and cones

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. Players start from the edge of the box. 2 servers stand either side of the goal. One player makes a run towards the centre cone and quickly changes direction towards the box and calls for the ball and tries to score. When the player heads the ball they must join the back of the other group. In Box 1 players head towards near post, In Box 2 players head towards far post. Both sides can go at the same time.

Progressions:

  • Increase/decrease the distance between players, the servers and the goal
  • Add goalkeepers, but one player must go in turn

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the player and the server
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it at the earliest possible time
  • Player to attack the ball using upper back and neck for power

Up & Down

Players practice heading the ball high as they would for defense and low for attacking.

AimTo improve attacking and defensive heading techniques

Suitable forU7’s and upwards

EquipmentMarked area appropriate size for age, 1 ball between 2 players

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. One player serves the ball to teammate who must head the ball back to server. 5 headers in the air (defensive) and 5 headers downwards (attacking). Younger players are scared to head the ball so to start using a smaller softer ball and only a short distance between players.

Progressions:

  • Player must jump, meeting the ball in the air
  • Increase/decrease the distance between players
  • Server can move left or right so the header must be directed

Coaching Points

  • Look at the ball as it comes towards the head, use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Eyes open and mouth shut
  • Move from back foot on impact to front foot for power

Choose Your Path

Player runs into the area, quickly changes direction, calls for a ball then heads into goal.

AimTo improve attacking heading techniques

Suitable forU10’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, balls, and cones.

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. Players start from the edge of the box. 2 servers stand either side of the goal. One Player makes a run towards the centre cone and quickly change direction towards a server, calls for the ball and tries to score.

Progressions:

  • Increase/decrease the distance between players and the goal
  • When a player has head the ball he must sprint to the edge of the box, do an activity, like a press up or sit up then join the end of the other queue of players
  • Add goalkeepers

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the player and the server
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it earlier
  • Player to attack the ball for more power

Run In & Head

Players run into an area marked by cones to meet the ball and aim to head the ball into the goal.

AimTo improve attacking heading techniques

Suitable forU11’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, balls, cones, and poles.

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. Players split into 2 teams with 2 servers. Both sides can go at the same time. Players make a run towards the goal and call for the ball from the server and head the ball into the goal between the post and the pole.

Progressions:

  • Increase/decrease the distance between players
  • When a player has head the ball he must sprint to the edge of the box, do an activity, like a press up or sit up then join the end of the other queue of players
  • Add goalkeepers

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the player and the server
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it earlier
  • Player to attack the ball for more power

Keep It Up

Players head the ball in a circle between them aiming to keep it up as long as possible.

AimTo improve attacking and defensive heading techniques

Suitable forU11’s and upwards

EquipmentMarked area appropriate size for age, 1 ball between the group of players.

Organisation: Players set up in a circle. The aim of the drill is to keep the ball off the ground for as long as possible with the players only using their heads. Players need to head the ball up so next player has time to prepare body shape for heading the ball on and also to observe the position of the next player.

Progressions:

  • Increase/decrease the distance between players
  • When a player has head the ball he must do an activity before he can head the ball again, like a press up or sit up

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Communication between the players
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it earlier

Throw, Head, Catch

Four players stand in a square. One player feeds the next who heads it on to the next who feeds the last player and so on.

AimTo improve defensive heading techniques and accuracy

Suitable forU11’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, 9 cones, 1 ball between 4 players.

Organisation: Players set up in a square. One player throws the ball up to the player next to them. This player must then head the ball to the player on the other side of them, who catches the ball and the sequence of throw, head, catch is repeated around the square.

Swap roles of players so everyone gets to head the ball.

Progressions:

  • Players should try and head the ball all the way around the square.
  • Increase/decrease the distance between players
  • Players can move around the box so the header must be directed
  • Players can head in any direction to any player

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head
  • Players to jump for the ball to take it earlier

Offensive & Defensive

Players practice heading the ball high as they would for defense and low for attacking. Five of each type then change over.

AimTo improve attacking and defensive heading techniques

Suitable forU8’s and upwards

Equipment: Marked area appropriate size for age, 8 cones, 2 balls between 4 players

Organisation: Players set up as shown in the video and diagram. One player serves the ball to teammate who must head the ball up back to serve. 5 headers in the air (defensive) and 5 headers downwards (attacking). Younger players may be scared to head the ball so to start using a smaller softer ball and only a short distance between players.

Progressions:

  • Increase/decrease the distance between players
  • Server can move left or right so the header must be directed.

Coaching Points

  • Timing of the header
  • Direction of the header
  • Use the forehead, not the top of the head

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