Soccer is known as "football" nearly worldwide for good reason. The foot is the most important part of the body in the game - but the head comes a close second. It is vital for every aspiring player to be able to head the ball in several different ways.
  A  defender  needs  to  be  able  to  head  the  ball  in  order  to  clear any dangerous airborne balls coming his way, whether back up the field or into touch. The midfielder needs to be able to do same,particularly from goal kicks that land around his territory. And the attacker, however tall or short, needs to be able to head the ball into the goal from crosses.
  There are four major categories of header : the defensive header is aimed upward to try to gain as much distance on the ball as possible ; the attacking header, one that is aimed  at  goal ,should  be directed down, so it is more  difficult  for  the  goalkeeper to save ; the glancing header - which can be used for passing to a teammate or scoring - changes the direction of the ball slightly to fool a goalkeeper or take a defender out of the game  ; and the back header, which  sees  the player direct the ball behind him so it maintains its original direction, is a highly useful tool at corners and throw-ins.
  Most  teams  have  heading  specialists - usually their central defenders and strikers, but a midfielder who  isn't  skilled  at  heading  is  an  incomplete  midfielder. Even the goalkeeper  has  occasionally  head  the  ball. Remember  that  a team is unlikely to be able to win a game if they don't have players who can head the ball.   

  Throwing Your Eyes at the ball
   Some coaches describe the moment when nod your head to make the header as " throwing your eyes at the ball. "  In other words, don't  let  the  ball  come to your head, but attack it positively. As the ball comes to you, keep  watching it and at the last minute move your head forward ( still watching the ball ) to meet it.

  Jumping to Meet a Header
    Jumping  to  head  soccer  ball  is  all  about  timing. It is absolutely crucial to follow the path of the ball from the begining  of  its  flight, adjusting your feet all the time so that you are in the  correct  position to meet the ball. You must concentrate on trying to head the ball at the highest point possible. If you can, take a starting run and launch yourself into the air  by  springing  off  your  stronger  foot, bringing  your  arms up and putting your elbows out for balance ( be careful, no fouls ! ). If  you have timed your jump correctly  you will be in a position to meet the ball for even a split second, the chances are that you'll miss it altogether.

  Heading A Long, High Ball 
     As with all heading,when dealing with a long, high ball, it is  essential to follow its flight all the way and not take your  eyes  off  it  even  for a split  second. It takes  great  concentration  to follow the ball and move your feet into position so that you are right under it, balanced  and  steady, as it comes to you. Remember  to shout your name to your teammates to let them know you are going for the ball, otherwise you will all bump into each other.If someone else shouts before you, even  if you  think you are in a better position, you must get out of their way. Once you are in  position  then  you  must  jump  to meet  the  ball at the highest point possible - if you have free header you can keep your feet on the ground and head it  cleanly  and  firmly. The crucial  thing is to get into the right position and have  the  confidence  to  meet  the  ball  firmly, sending it right back along its flight path  ( into the air where it will travel some distance back the other way ). When  you  get  more confident, you can head the ball above its original flight path, therefore nodding it directly into the path of one of your teammates. 

  Angled Defensive Heading
     In this movement you are heading the ball away at an angle of about  45 - 60  degrees. Approach  the  ball in the same way, but  make  contact  with  the side of your forehead  ( the side corresponding with the direction you want the ball to travel in ) and as you make  contact  nod  your  head  and  twist  your  body  the  way  you want ball to go. Remember  that  power is crucial  because you must clear the ball as far as possible, so  attack  it  and  use  all  the strength in your neck as you make the header

The Attacking Header
     To  direct  the  ball downward you must head nearer the top of the ball - and nod your head and twist your body downward in the direction you want it to go. To get power you must really attack the ball, using  your neck muscles and the movement of your upper body to meet it with some force and punch it in the direction of the target.

The Glancing Header
     A glancing Header is performed  by  glancing the head in the direction of the ball as contact is made. Contact is light  rather  than  firm, meaning  that the ball should slightly, rather than drastically, change direction. This header can be used to score a goal, guiding  the  ball  into the corner of the net, but also to ease the ball to a teammate or assist a dangerous cross into the box.

The Diving Header
    When  attempting  a  diving  header you must concentrate extremely hard on the flight of the ball. When you are sure that you can reach it by diving forward, time your run against  the  flight  of  the  ball and then launch yourself into  what  can  only  be  described  as  a  dive  at  the  ball. Bring  your  arms  forward  and away from your body for balance, and  simply  concentrate on making a firm connection. Your dive will automatically give the header power (if you make good connection, especially if the cross is coming at you hard). If you want the ball to go straight ( the way you are pointing ) then you won't  need to direct  it ;  just make sure you meet the ball toward the middle. If you get  underneath  it, it will fly into the air. If you need  to  direct it then try to use your neck and shoulder muscles as you would with other types of header.

The Backheader
    Performed  by  deflecting  the  ball  with  the  back  of  the  head  so that it continues in almost the direction it is going, but  with  a  slightly  altered path. It is useful as an attacking weapon to create confusion and as a defensive move to head back to the keeper. Because the ball is usually going at same speed, this  slight  alteration  of speed and  trajectory  can  create  confusion  in  the  opponents'  penalty  area  or, in open play, extend  the distance of a throw-in or ball kicked upfield.
    It is quite difficult  skill  to perfect  since  you  need to make only slight contact with the ball. As  the  ball  comes toward you, time  your  jump  so  that  you  flick  your  head  and upper body back ( mimicking the flight of the ball ), letting  the  ball  deflect  off  your  forehead  as  it  goes  over  th e top  of you. The faster the ball is going, the less contact needed.
© 2005-2008. Barrie Spirit Soccer
Heading  the  Ball