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The Future of Heading in Football.

Discussion in 'General Worldwide Football Discussion' started by Andy SFC, Aug 3, 2021.

  1. Andy SFC

    Andy SFC Registered User

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    With many dementia experts warning of the now proven link between heading and dementia, will heading be banned in football?

    Personally I feel that for 5 a side and 7 a side mini football, both should be head height rule. Mini football was introduced to get kids on the ball, not for coaches to tell their GK to lump it and everyone leg after it because thats how you win.

    I could see it working in 9 a side as well, I think having encouraged more passing and dribbling at the younger ages, hopefully teams will look to continue. My son played his first year of 9 a side last year and all the nice pretty passing patterns they worked on went out the window after losing a few games they just gave it to the kid with a huge kid and he lumped it. We won a few games but it was painful to watch and kids gain nothing from it.

    If they were to ban heading, I guess you would have to introduce a head height rule for 9 and 11 a side as well. Many football fans are screaming no but if if generations are brought through the ranks playing this way then does it not encourage better football rather than just hoof and hope? Are we essentially OK with saying, we want the game to stay the same, sorry if you get dementia and brain injuries but thats the risk you took when you became a footballer.

    I can see them making some changes too heading, there are all sorts of guide lines for youth coaches and that has been happening for a while but surely the game as a whole has to react and protect players at every level of the game.
     
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  2. HappilyLost

    HappilyLost Registered User

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    Would change football drastically if banned completely.

    Would reduce the amount of upsets that exist as well, crossing the ball into the box is one of the great levellers of the game I feel. While for example Millwall probably won't score when playing the ball on the ground against the likes of Man City.... If we win a corner and all the big men go up, the randomness that is thrown into the equation makes it exciting.

    It's a good idea to ban it at children level, I remember doing heading drills because the manager probably didn't know what else to do, he'd just chuck it up in the air for an hour and we had to compete to head it back to him. What a pointless exercise that was, many times we headed it wrong leaving us with a sore head as well.

    I think steps should be taken to reduce the amount of heading outside of the match day experience, but to completely ban it during a game? Doesn't every sport come with some sort of risk involved, and while we want to minimize that risk as much as possible, we don't want to start changing the game to do so.
     
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  3. Andy SFC

    Andy SFC Registered User

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    Not sure how they will know if teams are following this guidance either. Will still be plenty of youth coaches launching balls at kids for them to head it because it never done them any harm. :dunce: A long way off any changes in the game and the game will only change when they feel it may cost them money.
     
  4. Super_horns

    Super_horns WATFORD Till I Die
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  5. Foxwell

    Foxwell A little bit of the bubbly

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    I've been worried for years that we're going to see a sickening clash of heads between two players going for a ball, and one of them dies on the pitch. We've seen players knocked out, we've seen fractured skulls - every time I see a player go down after a clash of heads I can't help but fear the worst.

    I'm not sure what the solution is - as HappilyLost says above, there is an element of risk involved with every sport. If we ban heading for reasons of dementia or head injury then you could argue to ban tackling to avoid a broken leg, which would be ludicrious. Football is supposed to be a contact sport. But concussion protocols have got better and the framework is in place to stop heading at a training level for children. It would have to be an ongoing culture change, and dementia/CTE are not to be taken lightly.

    I think an outright ban in matches would drastically change the game and probably not for the better. I would imagine in that world that the dominant tactic would be a form of tiki-taka pass and move, and there would be less need for big lumping centrebacks. A big strong striker might still be useful for holding up the ball against potentially smaller CBs. Counter attacking from a corner would probably change as there wouldn't be these big centrebacks coming up at corners for headers which leaves space for a quick outball and breakaway - the CBs might as well stay back. Then again, corners would change to all being short balls anyway.

    I always hated heading the ball when I played as a kid and I would do anything to avoid heading drills. Didn't mind a soft tap if we were playing keepy-ups, but that was all. I hated it because it bloody hurt, especially if you caught it wrong. Thankfully I was usually stuck out on the wings because I was quick and could cross so I wasn't often in the box anyway :D

    Bit of a ramble but just my two pence worth.
     
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  6. Foxwell

    Foxwell A little bit of the bubbly

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    How does a match with 'no heading' work?

    Nice fundraiser and a bit of awareness here. Video on the BBC link.

    Football has long been described as a simple game - played with the feet, won with the head. But what happens when you literally can't use your head?

    Spennymoor Town's Brewery Field in the north-east of England was the venue for a landmark game this weekend. A crowd of just over 300 people witnessed an historic moment in British football as the first adult 11-a-side football match with heading restrictions took place to raise awareness of the risk of dementia in players.

    In the first half players were only allowed to head the ball inside the 18-yard box. For the second half of the match heading the ball was banned anywhere on the field.

    The two teams were made up of current and former professional footballers.

    Dr Judith Gates created the charity organisation Head for Change and was responsible for arranging the game. Her husband Bill Gates, a former Middlesbrough defender, was diagnosed with dementia in 2014.

    Now aged 77, he was forced to retire at 29 after regularly suffering migraines.

    "My husband will enjoy today but he won't remember it tomorrow," Dr Gates told BBC Sport.

    "He is increasingly frail and his short-term memory is virtually non-existent. What we are doing on his behalf is carrying out his wish. When he was first diagnosed he said, 'I want my legacy to be that no other player or family go through what we are going through.' So that's what today is about."

    Standing in the centre of the pitch, Bill Gates received a minute's applause before the game started between Spennymoor and Team Solan. It was Spennymoor FC where he started his career before a move to Middlesbrough.

    The in-game action that followed was like any other football match - both teams featured players with experience at Premier League and even international level.

    The only 'mistake' came after about five minutes when a ball clipped up field from the left-back position was headed by the opposing team's centre-back. Cue pantomime-style antics from the crowd and opposing players.

    The attacking team was awarded a free-kick and on the game went.

    "Yes, I think my instincts just said 'if the ball is in the air go and attack'," explained Mark Tinkler, who committed the error.

    "It brings a different dimension to your game - you have to think quicker, bring the ball down on your chest and find other solutions."

    Tinkler, now a youth coach at Middlesbrough, was a professional for 17 years and played for teams including Leeds United, York City and Southend United.

    Heading has always been an integral part of football. And while formats like five-a-side are played without it, it is a key element for the 11-a-side game. However, during the 90 minutes on Sunday, it was only while a corner was being taken that there was any real impact on the match.

    [​IMG]
    Team Solan won the game on penalties
    The game ended 5-5, with Team Solan winning on penalties. Ironically, the first goal scored, midway through the first half, was a legal headed goal from inside the box.

    Head for Change has made it clear it does not want to outlaw heading all together. Instead, it wants to raise more awareness and is calling for more research into what the long-term effects of heading a football might be.

    The issue has been highlighted in recent years, not least because of its impact on England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad. Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles died after suffering from brain functional diseases believed to be linked closely to heading footballs.

    Last year it was confirmed that another member of that squad, Sir Bobby Charlton, is suffering from dementia, while a 2019 study found professional footballers were more likely to suffer from a neurodegenerative brain disease than the rest of the population.

    "I don't think matches will go that way [of heading being banned], I don't know how many times a centre-half heads the ball in 90 minutes," said Craig Hignett, a former Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Leicester City player who took part in the landmark exhibition game.

    "With a link now being proven between heading a ball and dementia, and so many great players struggling, it needs looking at so we can find a safer way going forward."

    That discussion about how to make it safer for everyone is likely to run on for some time.

    The Football Association has revised its guidelines on heading, including banning it in training for under 11s and restricting it among other age groups. This season professional clubs in England have been told to limit players to 10 "higher-force headers" a week in training.

    "Steps are being taken in the right direction so these actions are constructive. What we need for the future is more evidence, more research and more understanding, and to take steps to protect the players," said Dr Gates.
     
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  7. Empress Touch

    Empress Touch Registered User

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    Football,
    like many global professional sports,
    in kind like many professional fields of work,
    has many big problems that stem less from unique circumstances and more from a culture of wrongly-accepted practice.

    All that's needed to be said, probably already has been in the above six posts.

    And indeed, consequences of "bad tackling" or the likes of ex-players living age expectancy lowering by the year are likely to be documented more-and-more in the not-so-distant future.


    All that's not been touched upon is the respect of the game; if football was marketed, played and observed less as a b&w product and more as a celebration of sincere teamwork, creative planning and bravery, free of notoriety and false 'entertainment' in the name of pandering to the animal instinct; the game would be able to lead against health dangers, instead of merely reacting to them. In the instance of heading, heading the ball - and the ball alone - is a responsibility to be observed at all ages and levels. But it's not.
     

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