Should children be "banned from heading footballs"?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Howardh, 16 Jan 2020.

  1. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport...football-children-under-12s-sfa-a9285891.html

    Yes, a thousand times yes. In fact I would go further and force adult players to wear headgear. Dementia is an awful illness (he writes, looking at his mother who has had the severest type for several years) and why increase the chances of getting this by continually thumping a developing brain with a ball?

    So glad I didn't play football as a kid, and when I did I was a winger so never really got to head the ball. We could even eliminate heading the ball in football completely and play along the ground as in 5-a-side; although I admit that's a bit extreme.

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  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Yes re children, no re adults.
     
  4. scotrail158713

    scotrail158713 Member

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    I agree - with kids football. Although I’d say, having refereed a few u13 games recently, heading the ball is less common now anyway. I reckon it’s to do with encouraging players to play it out from the back, so the ball is being lumped forward less frequently.
    With adults though I don’t agree. They’re brains are fully developed so I don’t think it has the same impact - that’s my own opinion though and not based on any scientific evidence.
     
  5. thejuggler

    thejuggler Member

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    Yes to heading - the name of the game gives away how the game should be played - using the feet.

    However a definite no to any form of headgear. They don't work in reducing brain impact. I've seen a player wearing a head guard take an accidental head hit in rugby training. She looked fine, was removed from play and within 20 minutes she didn't know where she was. This was a couple of years ago and she now has no recollection of what happened.

    Pro rugby players wear them to reduce cuts to the head/ears etc.
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It's also an adult's informed choice if they head the ball or not. You don't have to.
     
  7. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Never done me any harm. World has gone soft.

    Seriously - the issue is whether modern balls cause the same kind of injury as older, heavy balls did. I agree absolutely they caused injuries of the type Jeff Astle suffered from. Heading one of those stiff leather balls, especially when wet, must have been like heading concrete.

    Also are we comparing like with like? A professional player will head the ball many 1000's of times more than a kid playing football once or twice a week. I can easily see how the pro might be damaged by these regular impacts which will be day after day for maybe 20 years. But a kid playing twice a week? I would be very happy to support developing a lighter training ball to teach kids how to head properly but we shouldn't be looking to remove heading as part of the game generally.

    That said there STILL isnt any definitive medical evidence linking heading with dementia. That needs to be investigated by a football funded proper medical study. We need to know for certain. A consensus isnt enough.

    yes you do! it is part of the game. Try defending a corner and not heading the ball.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jan 2020
  8. sw1ller

    sw1ller Established Member

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    Me and me mate used to play headers! Got over 100 a few times! Explains a lot really.
     
  9. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    It's tricky because if there was a link to footballers getting dementia in later life, then you either have a choice to play football and accept the risk, or not play at all. Perhaps we need two types of 11/a/side football at at least amateur level - and I appreciate there is indoor and 5-a-side where heading is outside the rules - heading and non-heading football so a player has a genuine choice and can continue to enjoy the game with reduced risk.
    I play hockey and while there's no heading of the ball; I accept I could get a severe clout on the head; however I reckon the benefits to health of actually playing outweigh the occasional risk.
     
  10. d9009alycidon

    d9009alycidon Member

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    These ideas are as a result of several professional fotballers that were active in the 50s and 60s developing alzheimer's disease in later life. I think it should be recognised that the actual football has changed significantly since then. I remember the leather "team" balls of that time, much heavier than present day balls and with the additioanl hazard of the laces with the characteristic that they became even heavier when wet as there was no vaneer to keep the leather dry. You headed one of those at your peril, but professionals were expected to head them all the time, and this is where I believe the damage was done. The modern lightweight ball is nothing like as damaging and can be headed quite easily. I agree that kids should be encouraged to keep the ball on the ground - or if doing header training use a smaller plastic ball (alwasy found volleyballs great for head tennis). I may be wrong but I don't think todays professionals are at the same danger as their predecessors.
     
  11. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    As the biggest legend in football once said....

    "If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there."
     
  12. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I got whacked in the head and knocked out playing hockey. I was in goal and wearing a helmet and body armour. I can remember seeing the ball coming and knowing it was going to hit me then nothing!
     
  13. coradiafan2000

    coradiafan2000 Member

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    I would definitely say yes to banning it in children's football. While there may not be any definitive proof, it would be irresponsible to not be on the cautious side.

    I don't think it should be banned from professional football though, at least not yet. Adults will know the potential risks.
     
  14. scotrail158713

    scotrail158713 Member

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    That along with the heavier balls is probably the biggest reason. I know when I played kids football we trained a couple of hours a week and had a game at the weekend - it probably amounted to maybe 4-5 hours a week total. Anyone playing for a professional team though will be playing much more often.
     
  15. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    Good save that man!!!
     
  16. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    The problem is that those playing since the 50's and 60's aren't yet old enough to maybe contract Alzhiemer's. Admittedly the balls are lighter, but if one type is 20% lighter than another, does that really matter as it's still a projectile hitting the head?
     
  17. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    Would this mean an overhaul of the rules for Under 12s being that the ball cannot go over head height resulting in a foul being called if it did? I wonder if they have considered using lighter balls for Under 12s rather than restrict them from doing what would come naturally to a footballer?
     
  18. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    But they are. Jeff Astle is the example. There was a documentary by fronted by Alan Shearer on this subject worth looking out. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/41902953

    Does the shape of the ball change? is the impact different? Is the load different? Is the force transferred different? Could a different technique help? etc etc The point is we don't know so we should be finding out.
     
  19. FelixtheCat

    FelixtheCat Established Member

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    I had a bet on that being used 5 comments in. Shame this was comment 6.
     
  20. scotrail158713

    scotrail158713 Member

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    Judging by the rest of the post I think @DarloRich was missing a wee emoji at the end.
    Although I do agree - I thought someone was bound to make that comment.
     
  21. TrafficEng

    TrafficEng Member

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    Isn't there also a non-dementia risk involved with two players both going for the ball (Edit: at least one of them with their head) and having a head-on-head (or other body part) collision? From a pure safety perspective if the objective is to kick an object quite hard it might make sense to keep more vulnerable/less experienced heads as far away from that object as possible?

    I can see both sides of the argument. Not sure which is more persuasive, but on past form I imagine a 'ban' will come in because the consequences of not doing so would be severe if a child does get seriously hurt after the issue had been examined but no action taken.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jan 2020
  22. scotrail158713

    scotrail158713 Member

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    I think the difference is that you choose to go for a header but you don’t choose to go for a head clash with someone
     
  23. TrafficEng

    TrafficEng Member

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    Have edited my post. What I meant was two players both choosing to head a ball and heading each other instead. Or one choosing to head while another kicks (less likely perhaps, but not unknown).
     
  24. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Pfft! In an upper school girls vs boys hockey match I took one to the gentleman's parts, a place with no bone to spread the impact energy. Energy derived from an angry, hormone changing time of life, teenage lass. I had to check many times I was still intact, once the pain went away...

    Seriously though, I'd want to see the research first. It might just be the cynic in me, but sometimes I have a nagging feeling that Universities look for quick 'wins' rather than getting to the heart of the matter. Dementia is an awful ailment, my mother-in-law passed away with it a few years ago. Seeing someone deteriorate as a result is heart-breaking, but heading footballs was definitely not the cause. Maybe continued trauma to the brain might be a factor, but it is clearly not the root cause. I want universities to focus on the root cause.
     
  25. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    @DarloRich didn't need an emoji (indeed no one needs an emoji) the meaning was clear from the next paragraph.
     
  26. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    I wonder what you'd describe as head height. One player's head height could easily be another player's chest height. It's also very difficult to judge the height of the ball surely; I could see this causing arguments.

    Also another thing I am wondering is: what about indoor footballs? These are softer and lighter than regular footballs.

    I currently run non-competitive Under 12 indoor football sessions. Next time I'll try to remember to count the number of times the ball gets headed, but I'd say not very often.

    Personally, when I play football (not at any sort of decent level I hasten to add), I choose not to head the ball.
     
  27. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    I think they'd need to have a rule in place for competitive Under 12s that defines this. I am sure one may exist as I am sure I have seen something like this for indoor football before. I do agree about the ball though, surely that may be the easier option although the lighter indoor balls may not work effectively on an outdoor surface and with the wind
     
  28. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Also agree with this. I don't recall heading the ball much in competitive games at all below U12 level if I'm honest.

    A lot of kids below that age also have poor technique with heading, allowing the ball to mistakenly hit the crown of their head, which I'm sure is much more dangerous than a technically able player who can "meet the ball" properly by heading through it with the forehead.
     
  29. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    I would hope so. Imagine a big goal kick - how do you contest the ball as it drops, given you cannot head it? There's a risk of high feet if two players decide to try and get the first touch.
     
  30. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    A said above i don't think many under 12's will be kicking the ball high enough to head very often. I don't really have a problem with banning heading for that age group as football for young kids should be fun and core skills based) but at some point heading needs to be taught as one of the wider skills.

    I would also like to see a proper football industry funded study into industrial injuries in that sector. IF heading the ball is dangerous lets prove it.

    This must depend on your position in the team. Try choosing not to head the ball at a corner or free kick. You wont be much use!

    NOTE - I was a defender. I headed the ball. I wasn't much use!

    Agreed - however that risk must be inherent in any contact sport. I know I was kicked in the head often enough playing rugby, most of the time accidentally. IMO football are a long way behind where they should be on concussion.
     
  31. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    I can't see how continually hitting the head with an object can't be harmful. We have a skull, that was invented for falls, irregular hits etc and not for constant bombardment, and we also generally live longer whereas in the past when the average death rate was in the 60's and 70's there wasn't time for the damage to surface, now we can expect 80's and beyond and any symptoms caused by damage in the past may well occur.
    It does need a lot of research, and meantime perhaps it's best to be on the safe side and ban heading for u16's - you can play football on a pitch just like hockey, ball not to go above a certain height unless it's a shot at goal from inside the box. Kid's pitches aren't much bigger than 5-a-sides anyway and that is no heading.
    Then we look seriously at protecting adult's heads, even if it's just a strong headband or soft "helmet".
     

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