In most sports, when coaches yell, “Use your head,” they want you to make better decisions during play. When soccer coaches yell the same thing, they mean it literally.
According to Real Salt Lake assistant coach Brian Johnson, being skilled at heading the ball is “just as important as passing, juggling, dribbling or any other technical skill.” He continues, “It gives you a big advantage, because the ball doesn’t stay on the ground. You get the opportunity to pass the ball effectively in the air.”
Whether you’re heading a ball to clear it out of the defensive end, pass it to a teammate or snap a shot on goal, Johnson offers these tips for using your head on the pitch.
• Use your forehead
• Keep your eyes on the ball when timing the header
• Get your arms up in front of you to stay balanced when going against opponents
• Put force on the ball for more power in your header
• Close your eyes when you’re about to head the ball
• Use your elbows and arms to push off an opponent
• Practice headers longer than 10 minutes a day