Soccer players have a wide array of skills. Whether it’s techniques for dribbling past opponents or a bicycle kick into the back of the net, soccer is a sport of technical prowess.
One specific skill that requires a large focus on proficient technical awareness is heading the ball.
Lindsey Horan and Emily Sonnett are both professional soccer players who have used this tactic. Set pieces can use the strategy of heading the ball to score a goal. Meanwhile, heading the ball can also help direct the ball in a different direction. Defenders can use this move to clear the ball away from their net.
HOW TO HEAD A SOCCER BALL
Horan and Sonnett have three boxes they suggest you check off when performing a header. They are:
- Judging the flight of the ball.
- Attacking the ball.
- Snapping the ball.
Horan says that judging the flight of the ball includes tracking the ball in the air and figuring out when you need to jump. “You need to know how to get the ball before your opponent around you,” Horan says.
To attack the ball, Sonnett says timing is key when making contact with the ball. “[When it’s] at the highest point, this is when you want to go in a positive direction to attack it,” Sonnett says.
Finally, you’re ready to snap the ball. Horan suggests snapping the ball by pulling your head back and then thrusting forward, to make contact with the ball. This motion, like the attack, will take place in the air.
Practicing headers is a great way to prepare yourself for gameday action. Grab a teammate and try out this Pro Tips header drill.