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Primary Schools – The FA announces important new guidance on Heading!

24 February 2020

The Football Association (FA) has published new guidance around heading today (24/02/2020).

The Key Points include:

• No heading in training in the ‘Foundation phase’ (this covers all primary age school children).
• Graduated approach to heading for children in the development phase U12-U16.
• U18 heading drills should be reduced, to take into consideration the heading exposure in matches.
• Don’t over inflate the footballs: use the lowest pressure authorised by the Laws of the Game.

An FA spokesman said:

“In the Foundation/Primary School age groups, we strongly recommend that teachers and coaches should not include heading in training sessions which would include curriculum and extra-curricular sessions.”


In addition to the statement above, The FA have supplied some additional information to help clarify and answer questions that may arise:

  • The FA is not banning heading in football.
  • The FA is leading the way by introducing a number of clear recommendations to English football, at all levels of the game, in conjunction with our independently-chaired Research Taskforce.
  • The FA, Irish FA and Scottish FA have come together to agree and implement steps to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football, without impacting how the game is played.
  • This is an evolution of existing heading guidance for coaches that helps to mitigate any potential risk without impacting the way the game is played. That is the responsible thing to do.
  • We have liaised with the Irish FA, Scottish FA, UEFA and the coaching group, and we have created an updated set of Heading Guidance for training and coaching across age groups. The Heading Guidance is proportionate to the amount of heading that actually takes place for each respective age group – our research shows heading is extremely rare for younger age groups. The guidance applies to the whole game.
  • Importantly, we are not making fundamental changes to the way the game is played. This Heading Guidance is a precautionary and common-sense approach to take whilst further research continues into whether there are any potential risks associated with heading.
  • The Primier League and the English Football League have been consulted throughout this process. Both leagues will assess how the Heading Guidance fits with their clubs’ training curriculum and practices.
  • These guidelines will remain under regular review, and if new evidence comes to light, we will take the appropriate steps.
  • Further research – across the game – is required and we will certainly be playing our part in this.
  • It is important that we do all we can to ensure that everyone feels safe playing football and endorse the number of proven health benefits from playing regular football.

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