The FA have announced updated Heading guidance for Youth Training Sessions

The Football Association [The FA] has today announced updated Heading Guidance for all age groups between Under 6 and Under 18, in association with the Irish and Scottish FAs.

The updated Heading Guidance, which will be introduced immediately, will provide grassroots Clubs, Coaches  and  Players  with the  recommended  heading  guidance  for  training  sessions. 
The  guidance does not make any changes to the way matches are played.

Following  the  publication of The  FA  and  PFA  joint-funded  FIELD study  in  October  2019,  The  FA established the  independently-chaired Research Taskforce to guide on possible changes  to  heading coaching, review concussion management protocols, and advise on future research projects.

Although there was no evidence in the FIELD study to suggest that heading the ball was the cause to the  link  with  incidence  of  degenerative  neurocognitive  disease, to  mitigate  against  any  potential risks, the updated Heading Guidance has been produced in parallel with UEFA’s Medical Committee, which  is  seeking  to  publish  Europe-wide  guidelines  later  this  year.
The  Irish  FA and  the Scottish  FA will also adopt the same Heading Guidance.

The updated Heading Guidance includes:

• Heading Guidance in training for all age groups between Under 6 and Under 18
• No heading in training in the foundation phase [primary school children]
• Graduated approach to heading training for children in the development phase between Under 12 to Under 16
• Required ball sizes for training and matches for each age group
• No changes to heading in matches, taking into consideration the limited number of headers in youth games


FA Chief Executive,  Mark Bullingham,  said:"This updated Heading Guidance  is an evolution of our current  guidelines  and  will  help  coaches  and  teachers  to reduce  and  remove  repetitive  and unnecessary  heading  from  youth  football.  Our  research  has  shown  that  heading  israre  in  youth footballmatches, sothis guidance is aresponsible developmentto our grassroots coaching without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game."

Irish FA Chief Executive, Patrick Nelson, said: "Our football committee has reviewed and approved the new guidelines. As an association we believe this is the right direction of travel and are confident it will be good for the game, and those who play it."

Scottish FA  Chief  Executive, Ian  Maxwell,  said: "While  it  is  important  to  re-emphasise  there  is  no research to suggest that heading in younger age groups was a contributory factor in the findings of the  FIELD  study  into  professional  footballers,  nevertheless  Scottish  football  has  a  duty  of  care  to young people, their parents and those responsible for their wellbeing throughout youth football."

The  updated  guidelines  are  designed  to  help coaches  remove  repetitive  and  unnecessary  heading from  youth  football  in  the  earliest  years,  with  a  phased  introduction  at  an  age  group  considered most  appropriate  by  our  medical  experts.

It  is  important  to  reassure  that  heading  is  rare  in  youth football matches, but we are clear that the guidelines should mitigate any potential risks.