Heading the ball in training sessions has been outlawed for primary school children under the age of 12 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of the Football Association’s updated “heading guidance” for the game.
The English, Northern Irish and Scottish Football Associations said in a statement here on Monday that they are also set to use a “graduated approach” to headers for 12 to 16-year-olds at grassroots level with immediate effect.
The heading guidelines follow last year’s publication of Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk (FIELD) study undertaken by Glasgow University, which found former professionals were at more risk of dementia.
The FA said the new guidelines will take effect immediately but it will not recommend an end to headers during youth matches.
“This updated heading guidance is an evolution of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football,” FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said.
“Our research has shown that heading is rare in youth football matches, so this guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”