These new guidelines for coaches will mean that all children aged 11 or under will no longer be taught to head footballs during training and restriction are being introduced for older children.
Children’s football in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland has seen a major change take place with this new guideline, the ruling is not yet being applied in Wales.
The Football Association of Wales has said its guidance for coaches regarding children heading footballs is still under review and will be made available later in the year.
These rule changes will also be applied to football for all age ranges right up until 18, with headers now being seen as ‘low priority’ and gradually becoming more frequent in training until the age 16.
However, there will be no changes to heading during youth matches.
- Heading guidance cover training for all age groups between under-six and under-18.
- No heading in training in foundation phase. (Aged 11 or under.)
- Headers will be gradually more frequent in training throughout higher age groups.
- Guidelines advise to not over-inflate ball when introducing heading.
- Guidance provided on required ball sizes for training and matches for each age group.
These guidelines have been introduced following studies from Glasgow University which showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from brain disease. However, there is no evidence that links these incidences of disease with heading the ball.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “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.
“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.”