Summary of the UEFA’s sponsored study on incidence of heading in soccer (football) among children and youth.
480 female, male or mixed teams from clubs under-10, under-12 and under-16; 60 teams per country accross highest leagues (17%), average leagues (36%) and lowest leagues (47%) (Denmark, England, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain and the Netherlands).
Cross-sectional observational study. Recording of matches between March and July 2018, and July and November 2018 + one training session.
- Header type: intentinal, unintentinal (getting hit), duels
- Match situation, position of the player, flight distance of the ball, point of contact on player’s head
- Head injuries
- Training and match exposure
3 head injuries correspond to incidenece rate of 0.7 per 1000 match hours (95%CI: 0.23-2.16)
Heading in match:
- 4,302.4 hours of exposure
- match heading incidence rate in general: Uder-16 females (1310) < Under-10 (1408) < Under-12 (2940) < Under-16 males (3055)
- 80% of heeders were intenstional
- 65% headers occured during free game play and after 21% throw-ins
- Defenders were heading most (44%), then midfielders (40%) and last goalkeepers (<1%)
- 42% of headers came from the distance of <5m
- 71% of headers were to the frontal part of the head
Heading in training:
- 2,634.4 hours of exposure
- training heading incidence rate in general: Under-16 females (2341) < Under-16 males (2511) < Under-10 (4634) < Under-12 (5007)
- 96% headers were intentional, 2% were duels
- 83% of headers came during free game play, 14% from throw ins, 2% corner kicks
- 80% came from <5 meters, 14% from 5 to 10m, 4% 10-20m, and 2% >20
- 87% headers were to the frontal part of the head, followed by parietal (11%), 1% to temporal.
Take home message
Beaudouin F, Gioftsidou A, Larsen MN, Lemmink K, Drust B, Modena R, Espinola JR, Meiu M, Vouillamoz M, Meyer T. The UEFA Heading Study: Heading incidence in children’s and youth’football (soccer) in eight European countries. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2020 Apr 26.