A friend of my was playing goalie in a friendly pick up game. The field was filled with both US and foreign born ex-college players ages 25 to 45. During a game one Sunday, a powerful midfielder ripped a shot. My friend went to save the ball and the bone in his arm snapped through his skin proving that a soccer ball can cause damage.
So why doesn't a headed soccer ball cause brain injuries?
How can that not cause brian damage?
This is a question that I have thought about often, but not enough to look for an answer because I considered that soccer has been played for years and years all over the world and brain injuries from a headed ball have never been a major concern. I would consider the world-wide history of soccer a big long conclusive test. If there were a problem with heading, then FIFA, SAY and any other organizing soccer body would have outlawed heading. So I just blindly assumed that heading a soccer ball was safe even if it did not make intuitive sense. Of course, the game is not without head injures, but soccer head injuries seemed to be confined to heads hitting heads, heads hitting goal posts and heads hitting the grounds.
Well, a new study suggests that heading a soccer ball may cause brain function issues. The study was presented at the Radiological Society of North America today. The study suggests that repeated heading is the issue, not the force of a single impact. Again, it makes intuitive sense to me, but then again, I look back on the long history of soccer wonder why issues have not surfaced prior to this study. I guess a lot of research needs to be done before there will be conclusive report.
The Main Point
So I conclude that if you put modern medical equipment to the test you can detect changes in the brain from repeated heading. If you put history to the test you can conclude that the changes detected from the modern equipment must not be consequential.
Heading is a vitally important part of the game on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The best advice I can give a soccer mom or dad is to make sure that your kid's coach is teaching the proper technique at age 10 and up.
I do not think that players under 10 years old need to be heading a soccer ball. I say this not because it is conclusively proven to be dangerous to developing brains, but because players of this age do not know the proper technique. This can cause injuries. Kids this age often close their eyes and let the ball hit them on the top of the head (not the forehead where the most protective bones are). This does not feel very good and fear develops. This fear from poor initial technique will undermine the confidence needed to properly execute a header when they get older. Besides, young players 10 and under have so many things to master first.
Click here for the proper technique for heading a soccer ball
My son was a terrific player in the air. In soccer terms that means he was a very good at heading a ball. He attacked the ball.