A heading ban in football training for children up to the end of primary school has been introduced with immediate effect this week in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The ban, which does not yet apply in Wales (and currently under review) will affect training only.
The new guidance has been issued following a study which showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease. The new football association guidelines for coaches also puts limits on how much heading older children should do.
In a joint announcement from the FA, Scottish FA and Irish FA, coaches were advised that there should be “no heading in training in the foundation phase” – which covers primary school children, or under-11 teams and below.
There are also new rules for age ranges up until 18, with headers being kept a “low priority” and gradually becoming more frequent in training until the age of 16.
Headers will gradually get more frequent in training, for example under-12 teams will be limited to one session a month with a maximum of five headers, while under-13 age groups will have one session a week.
The rules also advise not to over-inflate the football when introducing heading in training, instead using the lowest pressure allowed. The guidance also sets out required ball sizes for training and matches for each age group.
The updated guidelines are designed to help coaches remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football in the earliest years, with a phased introduction at an age group considered most appropriate by medical experts. It is important to reassure that heading is rare in youth football matches, but the guidelines should mitigate any potential risks.
Sportsafe wholeheartedly support the heading announcement in the protection of our current and next generation children.
For more information on this story, visit the FA directly by clicking this link:- http://www.thefa.com/news/2020/feb/24/updated-heading-guidance-announcement-240220