Martin Devlin: Should kids be heading soccer balls?

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 2:43PM

Martin Devlin: Should kids be heading soccer balls?

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 2:43PM

Should kids be heading soccer balls? What started off as a rhetorical question now fast becoming public policy for football associations across the globe, England being the latest to officially warn that "it is not advisable to coach youngsters to head the soccer ball". 

Now before we all start screaming stupid PC climate-changing kombucha cycle-laners taking over the world, we do need to pause, breathe and have a proper think about the reasons why this, as policy, is now being so consistently said. Time then to put all the political grandstanding aside, remove the hysteria from this debate, and consider the most basic facts.

Simply put, the physical act involved here can never be good.

Any young person repeatedly hitting his/her head with force against a football also travelling at force, in terms of long-term brain protection, is not a healthy recommendation. That much is quite obvious.

Let's all agree that hitting your head with regular intent against anything motionless or moving, no matter what the force involved, is never ever good for any person's head. Whatever age or stage your brain is at, the skull can only offer a certain level of protection.

Everytime the skull is rocked and shocked the brain bounces around inside it causing bruising, however minimal, to the most precious and irreplaceable organ we have. This is just basic physical fact. And believe me I'm not scaremongering. I'm just explaining it best I can so we can also look at finding a solution if there is any. And, thankfully, I believe there is.

Like most things, when you remove the hysteria from around the issue, the answer is often as equally simple. Approach it in the right way, which means not getting kids having hours of heading practice two nights a week, teach the proper technique and it will be fine - just like teaching kids the right  way to tackle in rugby.

Be sensible, be practical, be aware of it, keep an eye out for it and use your common sense. Heading a football by definition  shouldn't be that good for you, but if done right probably also isn't that bad.

Just like the game itself it's all about being smart and using your noggin.