Those old enough to remember Jeff Astle, how do you feel now that yet another newspaper story is out about the effects of heading the ball?
Personally, and I grew up in the 80s and 90s (when we had decent footballs and not the ones Jeff Astle and Co used as kids), I was always sceptical about this stuff. I always thought it was driven from America where they are litigation crazy, and thought back to how the likes of Dixie Dean coped. The stories are getting more and more compelling and I find it impossible to dismiss them now.
What about you guys?
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1 Posted 20/11/2019 at 14:23:33
2 Posted 20/11/2019 at 14:34:37
I hate it in one respect - the kids are learning bad footballing habits at a very young age. With my 10 year old, I see situations where a kid lifts his foot up, very high and dangerously, to kick a ball he really should be heading.
I like it in one respect, in that the impact of heading a ball fizzed in on a young kid's head, can indeed cause injury. I've actually seen kids get concussions from heading.
It's all down to money. The USA Soccer Federation doesn't want a massive lawsuit against them for injuries sustained in the course of playing soccer.
The NFL has also seen the possible massive economic impact of head injuries and lawsuits, and has changed the game drastically to prevent head injuries.
It's all a bit of a mess. But the one thing I'm sure of, it's all down to the money.
3 Posted 20/11/2019 at 14:50:31
Lawton, Mountfield, Sharp, Speed, Cahill & Ferguson all superb headers and actually ‘jumped their height‘.
Like all parts of the sport it needs proper coaching and I believe it often gets neglected. Jamie, you assert correctly that it leads to unintended consequences, players raising their feet or levering opponents out of the way to avoid using their head.
It's bit chicken-and-egg I guess. Has heading gone out of the game? Coaching in the last 20 years has emphasized small-sided games and less on physical traits like height and power. As a result who heads a ball well nowadays?
There are few forwards that can use their head as precisely as some target men used to, whilst holding off a challenge. Oddly, I watched Kieffer Moore of Wales do exactly that yesterday. Gave them a lot more structure. Defenders too are less inclined to head the ball away and want to bring it down.
My ignorance perhaps is showing but, in the last decade or so, are there huge numbers of cases from the '80s & '90s or perhaps are the players not showing the effects yet?
Either way, if you want to keep heading in the game, it has to be coached properly. Would I be surprised if it faded from the game? Not at all.
4 Posted 20/11/2019 at 14:54:47
As above, I was sceptical. I don't know anyone with a brain injury from football, either personally, or through Everton. So, I always dismissed it. But articles are gathering traction and documentaries like this make you think.
I'm now undecided.
5 Posted 20/11/2019 at 15:10:00
I believe there is probably a bigger problem among association football players from a lifetime of heading the ball than we imagine. That being said, it is far more dangerous for the ball to hit a player on the head unexpectedly than to head the ball in the proper manner using the neck muscles.
The answer may be to design a protective headband, especially for children and youth players who are more susceptible to injury.
6 Posted 20/11/2019 at 15:16:05
I can confirm that, even with lighter, laceless mitre balls, catching a ball wrongly – particularly as centre-back repelling 60-yard punts from the goalkeeper's hands that came down with ice on them (no playing out from the back in our leagues!), would severely rattle the brainbox.
So yes, I would guess there could be something in these reports. Heaven knows where restricting heading would leave our game. What would Everton have been like without Latchford's and Cahill's headed goals?
7 Posted 20/11/2019 at 15:20:03
I am from the old school in the late 50s to early 60s that used the old leather ball with the lace and have headed this ball in the rain and on the leather lace and I ended up needing stitches over my eye.
The modern ball that is light, not sure what material it is made from, must be great to head, as I was not to exited but frightened to be dropped and still headed that old leather ball after getting my stitches out.
No one likes to see anyone either young or old, getting an injury that stops them from continuing playing, but whatever you call it, football or soccer, this is a contact sport and there are plenty of other type's of injuries that can end a career or just the recreational side of the sport'.
Heading is an integral part of the game and any change in the rules will simply kill it off. People who train to be defenders and strikers work hard to improve their heading abilities to make them a better player. Every contact sport has its elements of risk and to stop younger players from not allowing them to play certain aspects of that sport that the may have to learn when they get older, is harming their chances of improvement.
I understand the decision in the U.S.A. and I suppose it is all about money, but heading is an integral part of the game and you don't just go up to head a ball you learn to direct it, and some players learn it quicker than others to make them more useful in either goal area.
8 Posted 20/11/2019 at 15:32:22
From a purely personal perspective, I was born in 1960 and did regularly play with casies although plastic balls were used in the street. Often very light ones that would burst on a rosebush but also the orange Wembley Trophy which was a bit heavier.
I do recall soaking wet lacies in the rain and how your head would spin after a hard header.
Crazy to think about that blancmange of a brain getting shaken about.
A friend had a haemorrage after banging his head on an "A" Frame in a loft. They found that his brain was supported by rather weak ligaments enabling it to "rattle" inside the shell of his skull, (he was only 40). He was told it was due to regular beatings or binge drinking (he had both). As we get older the brain shrinks and there is more space for the brain to rattle in. I play ourdoor all summer and notice that if I take a few headers that in the pub afterwards, I feel a bit dizzy. I now avoid heading unless absolutely necessary.
I think we will be hearing more on this as evidence is exposed.
9 Posted 20/11/2019 at 16:13:16
Then again, as a Yank, I know very well the dangers posed by constant head strikes, especially over the long-term. And American football players wear helmets designed to protect them from this very thing!
10 Posted 20/11/2019 at 16:31:59
11 Posted 20/11/2019 at 16:43:56
This makes for interesting reading:
12 Posted 20/11/2019 at 16:57:17
It might be more apparent at a higher level, especially at clubs where kids are aspiring to become footballers and look to improve every area, but at the basic kids level I honestly dont see that much heading.
I suspect the link has been made at professional and semi professional level where much more training will be in place to improve heading.
13 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:00:10
John Bailey was amongst our number and to the best of my knowledge none of us suffered brain damage (no comments please).
If we think of the millions that have played football over the years I can't think of many who have suffered serious damage to their brains from heading a ball.
I am more concerned about the physical contact (head to head) which results in a concussion although I guess these days in the Prem balls can travel upwards of 30mph so that may be a current concern.
14 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:04:49
They are protective unless you get smashed over the head with one although the Steelers quarter back didnt seem bothered by it.
15 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:23:20
Here in Kansas they have that age restriction but I went to a referees conference in Alabama. The head coach there was a Geordie and he was big on teaching heading to five year olds as he felt its too late to learn at 12. They had a big league down there and evidently heading is allowed.
There was a study on the news here lately about brain injuries from heading. They believe a number of mostly college age girls have brain damage from heading.
Personally, if proven — and I dont pretend to know the science — Id ban heading. But, I guess there will be players happy to carry on heading despite the risks just as we have boxers content to fight in an inherently dangerous sport.
16 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:27:48
I play ou(t)door all summer and notice that if I take a few headers that in the pub afterwards, I feel a bit dizzy.
I stopped playing about 2 years ago. But I, too, had issues after heading a ball. I'd be dizzy, and frankly, it hurt a bit.
Which is why I wonder if it isn't better to have the kids not head the ball at such a young age. I don't like it from a footballing perspective. But considering the fact that about. 01% will play college soccer here, never mind professionally?
They have their entire lives ahead of them. Parents have them play a sport to learn the greater lessons of work ethic, effort, team play, manners, etc. Not get brain damage.
Still, every time my kid goes to head the ball, and then backs off and wheels his leg up to get a foot on it, it drives me mad.
I'm between two minds, but would side with caution in the end. It's a game on a grass field and you kick a ball. Memory loss, dementia, and brain damage trump learning how to head a ball, for me.
17 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:30:50
Someone with more knowledge needs to post, but if that coach in Alabama is having 5 year olds head a ball, his team / league can't possibly be under the US Soccer umbrella - they have to be independent.
If his league were under US Soccer, he'd be fired in an instant, and if he weren't, his DOF (Director of Football) would be on the hook for a massive lawsuit.
Massive. He's not an intelligent man doing that. His exposure and risk are through the roof.
18 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:33:37
Jay @14 that was honestly one of the most bizarre, terrible things I've seen happen on a football field. I was very glad to read the NFL office came down on him with an indefinite suspension. That same Steelers QB threw 4 interceptions this past weekend though...lol
19 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:37:14
It was assault with a deadly weapon. He should be banned from playing ever again in my opinion.
If he hits him with the crown of the helmet, he's dead. And we, here in America, would be having an entirely different discussion about that violent, disgusting event.
20 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:42:33
21 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:49:03
Steve, lol! I specifically said I don't think it's slow or tame! But no one will convince me that their athletes are "tougher" or whatever than American football ones. We're talking world class athletes here. I've had this tussle before, and the common rugby-supporter argument typically boils down to "they're real men" and American football players need pads because they're not.
22 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:53:25
23 Posted 20/11/2019 at 17:59:05
We've all grown up here with expressions like "punch-drunk" in boxing and "having your bell rung" in football, but for a century nobody gave it much thought because there were no scientific studies -- studies that can begin only when the athlete has died, and only when his family is willing to donate the brain for studies. That research has now shown CTE rates approaching 100% in NFL players and professional boxers, and hockey players are under study now.
I know how to head a ball -- in my semipro days I was considered dominant in the air -- and I've been knocked dizzy more times than I can count while heading. No matter how well you're coached, you can't always head the ball "properly" because if you're running or being jostled or it's a high ball that's being blown around, you can't always prepare yourself properly. And we know now from new science that young brains are more fragile. So I heartily endorse the ban on young players heading, and it doesn't bother me a bit that it causes more high kicks -- that's a habit that can be easily addressed at the proper time.
And I sure as hell don't think we should wait until footballers die and have their brains examined before we act on what we already know. Keeping young players healthy is far more important than delaying their heading lessons by a few years.
24 Posted 20/11/2019 at 19:05:39
Whether a risk is worth taking depends on who you are. It might well be concluded that children should avoid heading because the risk to them is deemed unacceptable. In contrast, professional footballers may see it as an occupational hazard inherent to their game, and deem the risk acceptable.
Talking about particular individuals like Jeff Astle is largely anecdotal, and not really enough to begin forming any conclusions. It usually takes a lot of work to get a feel for high large risks are. But there's nothing to stop a cautionary approach that distinguishes different groups, like children versus professionals as above, to protect certain groups like children.
A trouble with that is, it can be controlled only in certain environments such as a school, whereas in reality kids will continue to head footballs precisely because it's part of the game (they see their heroes do it) and enjoyable. When I was a kid, I spent hours practicing heading (which might explain a lot!), and couldn't resist heading when playing volleyball in school.
I suppose one approach might be to ensure that kids use lighter footballs, which may decrease the risk of any injury sufficiently. Then the regulation weight can be used when they get older.
25 Posted 20/11/2019 at 19:24:55
I watched the Alan Shearer documentary, and for me the facts are compelling about the link to players from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, whom had played and gave their all for tough career compared to modern times, the last 30 years.
I'd say, using the boxing analogy, that the more you head a ball the cumulative effect on the brain outer membrane, being damaged is increased and the more you head a ball at velocity and from height, the increased pressure exerted on the brain's outer membrane.
I'm no doctor, but I see over time that medical evidence will prove the relative long term and potentially fatal damage heading a ball can do.
I also believe that more technology and ball design will improve and reduce but not stop the same effect.
For me, it would kill the game if heading stopped but I see the day soon when the FA will follow the rules in the USA, and heading is banned until age 14.
But let's see what the government says and if such legislation would be passed.
26 Posted 20/11/2019 at 19:56:16
My gut says if there's a link but surely there's so many other factors across a 20-year career?
Using soft training balls to refine techniques is an absolute.
How stereotypical though the players interviewed were prideful and stoic. Did you think they were trying to protect the game?
My original post chimed quite nicely with the programme. Perhaps football will through fashion and coaching move so far away from heading that it naturally fades from the game.
27 Posted 20/11/2019 at 20:10:44
Where I think the line is: rugby is played with technique and controlled collisions, tackling is an art. Without a helmet players know the limits of their mortality!
Perhaps NFL is less controlled, violence in the purest sporting sense, they hit players, including with the head which whilst exhilarating when you are pitch side, really is boned-headed!
Tackling is a misnomer, and it's more a question of brute strength less technical skills.
To round on the point, hitting people with head & using a helmet seems to take away the body's and mind's abilities to tell you where the line is.
However, I think in today's game the players know the risks and still are happy to play for the money and the glory.
28 Posted 20/11/2019 at 20:14:19
My favourite comment about missing a headed chance came from Ally McCoist. He, in all seriousness, put down his failure to score as the ball "coming off the CORNER of his head". It explains so much about "A Question of Sport".
29 Posted 20/11/2019 at 20:59:42
30 Posted 20/11/2019 at 21:01:58
Steve, it's important to note that the burgeoning awareness of head/brain trauma in American sports is not driven by litigation
I don't believe that to be a statement of fact.
The studies have come out, and the NFL, and US Soccer, are fearful of massive class action lawsuits for compensation of medical costs due to injuries sustained while playing their sport. It takes one successful fling of poo on the wall for something to stick. And when it does, the war chests will be dumped out in force.
US Soccer, and the NFL, are protecting their nest eggs. There's no question in my mind. It's a specific action who's aim is to protect their wealth.
It's the actions of these two entities in particular, changing their game and the rules in the fear of losing possibly billions, that have brought awareness to the issue.
No one read the medical reports - except the lawyers with US Soccer and the NFL. They then marched into the powers that be and said, "we might have a very big problem here."
That's my take, Mike.
But I'm 50 and overly cynical.
31 Posted 20/11/2019 at 21:19:36
The awareness has been, tragically, driven by terrible deaths and suicides. Hall of Famer Mike Webster dying as a wreck at age 50 was the first earthquake. The aftershocks were the suicides of Andre Waters, Dave Duerson (whom I once spent a wonderful afternoon with), and Junior Seau. And when it started happening to 20-year-olds, suddenly the science kicked everybody in the gut.
32 Posted 20/11/2019 at 21:27:52
I watched an interview with Rudolph after the game and it was as if he had been hit with a feather.
I take back the English view that American footballers are all pansies.
33 Posted 20/11/2019 at 21:35:00
I don't know if all this is just coming to light because of recent increased studies or whether the games have become so much faster and more intense but it seems to me that this type of injury was not prevalent years ago.
34 Posted 20/11/2019 at 21:37:34
Semantics - definitely. It's chicken and egg - which came first? The studies or the lawsuit threat?
The studies, obviously. I'd just argue the awareness of the issue really started when the respective organizations changed their rules and way of doing things, to protect their wallets. Awareness came to the fore. Prior to that, very few knew, and very few cared.
Thankfully, now they do. I'd argue they do more because they care about their wallets than they do the players, but that's my cynicism.
35 Posted 20/11/2019 at 21:41:53
Many of us were born and brought up with the leather casey which knocked you out on a wet muddy pitch if, and it was a big if, someone could actually cross it
Astle would be of that generation and probably the damage done before the '68 Final people are talking about.
I understand the concern for our youngsters but even now if you watch the little ones play there's little if any crossing so little if any heading.
Kids are only playing a more "normal" game as they get a bit older and again how many headers in a game? Remember they're not playing 45 minutes each way until they're in their teens now.
Yes, let's be aware but let's not go overboard here. We are already doing everything we can to make it a non-contact sport; let's not take away a skill we are already downgrading by the tippy tap on-the-ground stuff we all play.
36 Posted 20/11/2019 at 22:11:20
In all seriousness, it would put Luddites like Fat Sam out of business. No-one likes the long ball anyway. I could live with it.
37 Posted 20/11/2019 at 22:42:41
Talking of caseys reminds me of an old Nat Lofthouse story. When he was asked as the England centre-forward which of his two wingers was the better, Stan Mortenson or Tom Finney, he said they were both brilliant, always centred the ball right onto his head but, when Finney did it, the lace was always on the other side of his head!
38 Posted 20/11/2019 at 22:51:59
The ball today, wow. I mean it improved in the 80s but as l got older the things l could do with the ball was impossible with the earlier versions. I miss the type of free kicks that could be taken or shots by the likes or Eder. Nowadays Rashford and Co strike it dead on and let the ball do the work. It ain't right, l tell yer.
39 Posted 20/11/2019 at 23:07:23
40 Posted 21/11/2019 at 01:16:27
Take heading out of the game and you will not need any tall players in defense or at centre-forward as no-one will be allowed to head the ball off the goal line or score a goal with a header.
The reason the Fat Sam managers are hired is because of the financial gains a club receives by being in the Premier League, especially for the lower clubs who do not have the finances of the bigger clubs. They need this type of manager (as Everton did) for survival.
Allardyce had such a bad reputation – you wonder why he was named England's manager... never mind Everton's!!
41 Posted 21/11/2019 at 01:44:02
42 Posted 21/11/2019 at 02:25:03
Without reading the links, I would suggest that any brain trauma linked to heading the ball might be more to do with professionals actually heading the ball thousands of times as professionals, rather than heading the ball now and again when they were kids. It might be better to reduce heading in professional training, I would suggest.
Kids get run over by cars up and down the country every day of the week but we don't ban cars.
43 Posted 21/11/2019 at 03:13:38
44 Posted 21/11/2019 at 08:38:33
I doubt nowadays it even applies to professionals.
I seem to remember the Shearer programme and the barrage of modern-day tests they gave him and there were no adverse results.
Since Shearer I doubt there has been another professional more "old-fashioned" than him who has headed the ball more.
Terrible thing to say but hopefully this is something that will only be experienced by those of the casey generation and not by those starting to play footy in the '70s onwards.
45 Posted 21/11/2019 at 08:57:57
Mark @43: I might be wrong, but I interpreted Danny's comment as saying that we need to act in a sensible way, not stopping something simply because it carries risk, but assessing the level of that risk before making any decisions. Otherwise, decisions can become knee-jerk and disproportionate to any real benefit, which happens in many situations and is something we would wish to avoid.
In the UK, there has been an 'elf and safety gone mad' culture where decisions by some authorities have falsely used health and safety as excuses to avoid doing something that is perfectly sensible and relatively low risk. The UK Health & Safety Executive has been trying to counter this trend with sensible approaches that look at actual risks, to try and rid of 'health and safety myths' that are perpetuated by the media. The UK HSE website, www.hse.gov.uk, has a section on this, called Mythbusters, which gives interesting examples of the problem.
46 Posted 21/11/2019 at 09:13:58
And none of this multi-ball crap where any ball can be thrown on to keep the game going, we had the “match ball” and that was used all the game.
Remember the orange “Frido” plastic balls as well, just heavy enough to be used for a kick about.
47 Posted 21/11/2019 at 09:31:25
48 Posted 21/11/2019 at 12:33:48
I dont know whats so hard to follow Mark. Kids barely head the ball under 12. So no need for change. Common sense.
49 Posted 21/11/2019 at 13:14:22
50 Posted 21/11/2019 at 13:56:50
Heading the ball is A, potential risk to children is C.
Driving cars is B, potential risk to children is D.
Said another way, just because A = C doesn't mean that B = D.
A study on one is not the same study on two. No one's making that argument, it's a false equivalency.
So sticking with just the topic of heading the ball, it could very well be true that because young players don't currently head the ball, the risk is lessened for them at this moment in time. But we can't say for sure, so why wait until it's too late? If there is enough empirical evidence medically that those same kids, now 22, are showing the effects of long-term medical problems, then surely you'd want to "head (ha) those potential problems off at the pass," no?
I don't know if said long-term effects have been studied yet in football. I do know they have in the aforementioned sports, American football and boxing. Therefore it would seem there could be many similarities in football that follow suit. The same younger players can't box. There are very strict rules in place around tackling in youth American football. It's not a huge leap to believe youth soccer could follow suit.
Just because you can't see the effects at 12 doesn't mean they won't be there at 22. The U.S. found out the hard way what it means to ignore the "smoke" until it was too late and the "fire" was well and good burning. It's the difference between proactive, and reactive. IMO protecting the long-term future health of players should never be cast aside to preserve a piece of a sport "because it's always been that way."
Food for thought.
51 Posted 21/11/2019 at 15:24:29
What you've suggested is a cautionary approach to safety. But a cautionary approach needs to be applied sensibly, what the UK HSE would call 'proportionately'. This means it should account for actual assessed risks rather than simply perceived risks.
Danny has pointed out that up to the age of 12 there is very little heading being done. That in itself is relevant, because it automatically reduces risk. If there is then substantial heading after the age of 12 (and that's an IF), then there are sensible ways forward rather than banning heading, the latter being an extreme. For example, reduced weight balls could be used for kids, which reduces risks from potential heading injury. In other words, with a bit of thought there is always more than one way to skin a cat.
The road traffic accident analogy raised by Danny is, in my opinion, a valid one, because it illustrates the principle of not banning something simply because youngsters are at risk. There is always a balance to be struck between risks and benefits. The trick is to strike a good balance. That could of course comprise banning heading altogether, but in reality there are usually sensible, less extreme, ways forward.
52 Posted 21/11/2019 at 16:01:28
This part is fair:
"What you've suggested is a cautionary approach to safety. But a cautionary approach needs to be applied sensibly, what the UK HSE would call 'proportionately'. This means it should account for actual assessed risks rather than simply perceived risks."
I simply base my thoughts only on my own experiences which have already been applied to U.S. sports.
This is very pragmatic and I can see this side:
"Danny has pointed out that up to the age of 12 there is very little heading being done. That in itself is relevant, because it automatically reduces risk. If there is then substantial heading after the age of 12 (and that's an IF), then there are sensible ways forward rather than banning heading, the latter being an extreme. For example, reduced weight balls could be used for kids, which reduces risks from potential heading injury. In other words, with a bit of thought there is always more than one way to skin a cat."
"The road traffic accident analogy raised by Danny is, in my opinion, a valid one, because it illustrates the principle of not banning something simply because youngsters are at risk. There is always a balance to be struck between risks and benefits."
Still doesn't work, perhaps only for me. It's still a false equivalency. Perhaps a much better way of voicing this opinion would be around the effects of tackling in football. Yes, the horrible extreme end of the spectrum is Son > Gomes. But does that warrant banning tackling? No way Jose. Just leave the cars out of it, lol. Alcohol is completely banned for children because it puts them at risk, but that argument would be equally foolish.
I do see what you guys are saying though. Boxing isn't banned for young people. Instead they can't spar until after the age of 10, and then only with protective headgear, so that seems like the balance you've been speaking of. Cheers for the solid debate.
53 Posted 21/11/2019 at 16:31:35
I looked up on the internet that about 30,000 folks die each year because of guns in the US. I then looked up that about 40,000 die in road traffic events.
I said to my mate, it looks like the risk of getting killed by a gun is no more than the risk of being killed on the roads, and since I'm not worried about the latter, it seems to me there's no reason to be worried about the former. Looking at the comparative figures for Texas didn't change this conclusion.
The point I'm making is that it's not a bad idea to compare one type of risk with another, if only to get a sense of perspective, which is part of this 'proportionality' thing.
54 Posted 21/11/2019 at 19:56:12
Mike Gaynes summed it up well and accurately.
Specific to reference of banning heading for kids in America, that originated from one source; Soccer Mom.
Moms across America watching idiot "coaches" teach headers by whipping in crosses at 8-year-old skulls set off the alarm bells that led to the banning. Rightly. Should also lead to the banning of the dumb asses doing that to children. If only.
That Geordie coach Kieran mentions above, should have been dismissed the minute after, "felt it's too late to learn at 12" came out of his mouth. Dumb.
Heading is a skill, yes. But not so complicated that it can't be learned, starting at puberty, when the muscular frame begins to fill out. Which is what we're aiming for now in youth soccer.
As far as the helmet discussion. The helmet is there to protect against facial/skull lacerations. It does this well. You will always see more rugby players go off for treatment of a bleeding head wound then you'll ever see for a gridiron player at any level. In addition, the helmet basically eliminated from the sport, broken noses/teeth and the "cauliflower ear" 50-60 years ago.
The football helmet does zero for preventing concussions. Not today, not ever. Every one for sale, from Pee Wee to the NFL, contains a warning label inside stating that specifically.
55 Posted 22/11/2019 at 06:30:47
The so called athletes are in this sport for fame, trophies and money in whatever order you out them so heading a ball is part of the risk that they are handsomely rewarded for so get on with it!!!!!
56 Posted 22/11/2019 at 08:15:04
As the kids get bigger the numbers per team increase along with the pitch size. By 8 or 9 keepers and corners are introduced...but most lack the strength to get a ball to head height from a distance.
When our season restarts in Feb / March I will ask about heading and where it features in the grand scheme of things...my guess would be - when teams reach 11 a side on a full sized pitch, usually age 11/ 12
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