There's an art to heading the ball, from re-directing the ball into the lower corner of the net to flicking the ball on to a player. Often, heading is the unsung skill that doesn't get the respect it deserves. A tall forward who can win head balls or a defender who can go up on corners and score goals with their head are valuable pieces to building up a great team. Then there are marksmen like Raul, who whips balls into the net with his head on a regular basis for Real Madrid and Spain. Watch this spectacular header by Palermo of Boca Juniors or this smart header by Klinsmann.
Use the upper portion of your forehead to head the soccer ball, just near where the hairline starts.
Keep your jaw tight and your teeth glenched when heading.
Power comes from whipping your back and upper chest forward, and using legs and stomach muscles for strength.
Raise your arms and elbows to protect yourself.
Square your shoulders to the goal.
On offense, when in front of goal, head the ball down and into the corners. It is more difficult for the goalkeeper to read and judge a ball that bounces in front of them and is low to the ground.
On defense, head the ball up as to give our teammates more time to read the play and get into position to defend--close down the offensive player. If you head the ball down you could mistakenly head the ball directly to an opponent who might get a shot off.
Also, keep your elbows up when going up in the air to protect yourself and dissuade others from trying to go up and win the header against you.
The feet should be spaced apart, forming a good base, 8-10 inches wide. The feet should also be staggered, to provide balance when the upper body arches backwards as the ball arrives. The trunk of the body should snap forward to give power to the header as the forehead contacts the ball. Point of contact on the ball can vary depending on whether the player is attacking or defending.
When heading to score, the contact should be at the midline of the ball to keep it directed down and low. When defending, the contact should be made below the midline of the ball, with the upper body continuing forward to head the ball into the air.
When jumping off one leg, choose the leg most appropriate to the situation. Some players prefer jumping off of one leg over the other; so a coach should make sure players are able to jump off of either leg successfully when attempting to head the ball. On takeoff, the knee and ankle of the take off leg should push upward and should arch backwards after the jump. The action of the non-takeoff leg should swing forward and high, bending at the hip and knee.
The upper body should be leaning forward at the point of takeoff and, when maximum height is reached, the body should arch backwards. The momentum of reaching back in a snapping motion propels the upper body forward, and the energy generated puts power behind the header. The head and neck should be tense as the forehead meets the ball. The player should end up landing on both feet.
To Re-Direct the Ball
The player's jumping should be rotated towards the intended direction so that the surface of the forehead and the upper body are at the right angle to redirected the ball. In addition, when heading from a jump-and-turning action, it is best to jump with the leg that is closest to the ball. The opposite leg must then swing in the direction of the ball, in order to help rotate the trunk.
There are instances when a ball is served below head height, but you have to dive in order to get to the ball. As one foot pushes off the ground, the opposite leg kicks in an upward motion while the upper body leans forward and the arms are extended forward. The body is parallel to the ground as the forehead strikes the midline of the ball. Arms are still extended outward to help brace the landing as the body connects with the ground at roughly a 45-degree angle. Take a look at this diving header by Alan Shearer. This is how it's done: