Heading Guidelines

Heading Rules and Resources

Age-Based Restrictions


  • U11 and younger: Players are prohibited from heading in practices.
  • U12 – U14: Players are limited to a maximum of 30 minutes of heading practice per week with no more than 15 – 20 headers per player, per week.
  • U15 and older: There are no restrictions on heading in practices.


  • U12 and younger: Players are prohibited from heading in games.
  • U13 and older: There are no restrictions on heading in games.


Players may not head the ball during games in a U12 or younger age group. For these players, a modified Law 12 will apply:

  • A team whose player in the U12 or lower divisions deliberately heads or attempts to head the ball will be sanctioned by an indirect free kick awarded to the opponent at the spot of the foul. If the infraction occurs within a team’s defensive goal area, the spot for the taking of the indirect free kick will be on the goal area line that is parallel to the goal line nearest to where the infraction occurred.
  • If, in the opinion of the referee, the U12 player does not deliberately head or attempt to head the ball, then play shall continue.


U12 – U14 Training Recommendations

  • Coaches should continue to work with their players in receiving the ball from the air using chest, thigh and foot techniques.
  • To get to the point where the objective of beginning heading can be achieved, it is suggested that coaches use the following ball progression: balloon, sponge ball, playball, volleyball, partially deflated soccer ball, properly inflated soccer ball.
  • Players are not to try to throw a ball up into the air to attempt heading it themselves as this rarely works and develops improper technique.
  • No player is to be forced to head a ball; heading is an “unnatural” act and children who are reluctant to head at first do so from a normal protective instinct. Teammates must not be allowed to ridicule a reluctant player.
  • Players should avoid heading the ball with the top or side of their head.
How to properly head the ball with Abby Wambach
US Youth Soccer Quick Tips – Heading
All NGS Coaches must adhere to these heading rules during league play, practices, and tournaments. About 1 in 3 concussions among girls happens during heading, most commonly from player-to-player contact and contact with the ball.