Should U12’s be banned from heading footballs?

The word that is coming out of Scotland is that the Scottish Football Association will announce the ban of heading footballs for players U12 following the release of a report which links dementia to the sport.

To be more precise, next month they are looking to ban heading a football in training sessions. The Scottish FA worked alongside Glasgow University on this study including the national team doctor. There has been a mixed reaction to the announcement with fears that a higher age bracket may be sought. Only two years ago the Alan Shearer documentary ‘Dementia, Football and me’ was broadcast showing a fascinating investigation into whether there‚Äôs a link between brain damage and heading a ball. Shearer who scored approximately 20% of his career goals with his head, would have also had many aerial battles per game with committed centre backs whilst in training the numbers would have been in the thousands over the years. So the conern was real. He found out that in America they have banned heading the ball under the age of 10 to prevent concussion. I am baffaled that there was a need to ban heading at that age group. What are these coaches doing in training that young kids are getting concussed?

If a coach of any team under the age of 12 designs a coaching session that has repetive heading drills in it then they should put the cones away and hang up the tracksuit… permanently. Coaching is not for them. It just isn’t needed. Children at this age rarely head a ball in a game situation. So the only place this can be happening is in a planned training session. On the other side of things you may have local teams who have parent’s as manager/coaches and their lack of knowledge of the game may lead them down this path. It is up to clubs to provide guidelines and workshops using qualified coaches to educate those willing to step up for the sake of their children’s love of a sport.

Most coaches with a logical footballing mind would have never dreamt of repetitive heading drills in their session for these age groups… a subconscious ban if you wish. For those coaches/parents I would agree that they need to be made aware of the dangers and to how irrelevant a childs heading ability is at these ages as it’s just not in the game.

Should world football follow in this ban? Well it’s a no-brainer (excuse the pun), to ban purposely designed heading drills/sessions at training is the only way to educate coaches and parents alike and protect the minds of the future.

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