Scottish FA ban children under 12 heading footballs

Children under 12 will not be allowed to head the ball in training. Picture: TSPLChildren under 12 will not be allowed to head the ball in training. Picture: TSPL
Children under 12 will not be allowed to head the ball in training. Picture: TSPL | jpimedia
The Scottish Football Association has published guidelines banning the heading of footballs in training sessions for children aged six to 11.

In October, a study was released linking former footballers with degenerative brain disease, spurring many medics to call for a common sense ban on heading for children.

Today (Monday) the Scottish FA introduced guidelines with immediate effect to provide clubs, coaches, players and parents with clarity on the governing body’s recommended coaching approach to heading in training sessions and in matches.

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The guidelines say heading should not be introduced in training sessions from the age of six through to 11. Picture: GettyThe guidelines say heading should not be introduced in training sessions from the age of six through to 11. Picture: Getty
The guidelines say heading should not be introduced in training sessions from the age of six through to 11. Picture: Getty | Getty

- Heading should not be introduced in training sessions from the age of six through to 11.

- Heading should be considered a low coaching priority between the ages of 12 to 15 years however training sessions can be introduced. These should be limited to one session of no more than five headers per week at 13 years, increasing to 10 headers per session at 14 and 15.·

- It is acknowledged that heading will begin to form part of the game at 12 and should be permitted, however, coaches are encouraged to promote a style of play that limits long passing.

- Heading burden will remain restricted to one training session per week for 16 and 17 year olds and coaches should be mindful of limiting repetitions during that session.

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Commenting on the new guidelines, Dr MacLean said: “I am proud that the Scottish FA has taken a positive, proactive and proportionate approach to the findings of the FIELD study.

"Scottish football has taken a lead on the subject of head injury and trauma in sport, from becoming the first country in the world to produce cross-sport concussion guidelines - If In Doubt, Sit Them Out - to having one of the most advanced medical education programmes in sport.

“Since the publication of the report we have consulted with colleagues on the football and medical sides at The English FA and UEFA and I believe the guidance will help provide reassurance for young players and their parents nationwide.”

Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive said the governing body had a "duty of care to young people."

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He 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."