Heading Guidance for Youth Players

For grassroots clubs, coaches and players.


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 (View on mobile)

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 is very rare in youth football matches, so we believe this is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching, which will help to mitigate any potential risks without impacting the way the matches are played."

Player heading ball
The FA
Heading Guidelines