Off-Season Training Part 6: Improve Your Heading
Savvy soccer players know that the best way to achieve a great season on the field is by working through a comprehensive off-season training program. This is true for professional athletes, and also for players at every other level. Working on basic skills and fitness not only ensures that players stay up to speed during the off-season, but it is also an excellent opportunity to hone skills and develop competencies in a wide range of areas. Heading is an example of a skill that most players can use improvement in, and the team at Fold-A-Goal would like to share some tips for practicing heading skills during the off-season.
Take the Fear Out of Heading
For young or inexperienced players, the first thing about heading is to overcome the natural fear. After all, players know how hard they make contact with the ball using their feet, so it stands to reason that they would associate that level of force when the ball is coming at their heads. It can take time and repeated drills to show these players that heading the ball is not a painful or dangerous experience, but an opportunity to improve their play and keep high balls under control when it really counts.
The best way to begin is by lining players up or placing them in a large circle and giving each one a ball. Next, have them toss the ball into the air over their heads, watching its movement at all times. Have them head the ball at their own pace, always aiming to make contact between the forehead and the middle of the ball. Pretty soon, the excitement of mastering this skill will overcome any lingering fears, and players will be ready to move on to more challenging drills.
Meeting the Ball
Another critical component of heading involves having the ability to meet the ball where it is. Players who can jump in the air and head a high ball have a huge advantage over those who will stand and wait for the ball to fall to the ground. As with so many other soccer skills, the only way to improve your attack and precision is through practice drills. One way to get players to be more aggressive on the field is to set up a drill with two lines of players facing each other. Have one toss a ball high into the air, and the other jump up to meet the ball and head it back. This not only gives players experience in timing their jump and making contact with the proper area of the ball, but it also allows a chance to observe their partner's efforts, and to gain a different perspective on what works and what does not.
At Fold-A-Goal, we are proud to offer a variety of soccer training supplies for players at every level of the game. We believe that off-season training is an integral part of improving skills and fitness, which is why we have designed this series of tips to help players and coaches make the most of the off-season. Contact us with any questions about your soccer equipment for the upcoming season.