Monday, November 17, 2008

Diving Header

The diving header technique gives a football player that extra edge and versatility to get to the ball first, and to get a head on crosses that otherwise would be missed. This is particularly true at the near post where the attacker is trying to get in front of the defender. It's a great soccer skill to perfect, and one of the best coaching drills is illustrated in the photograph.

The diving header require getting both feet off the ground, and a jump towards the football. You should be almost horizontal as you head the ball, using your forehead as always. Generally, take off is from only one foot, because the diving header is usually attempted on the run.

Most players find the dive the most difficult part of this technique. If you are having problems, practise the dive first without the ball. Put a low hurdle down, such as a large bag, a couple of twigs, or even a player crouched down if you can find a volunteer! Jump over the hurdle without hesitating. Then try the same thing with a partner serving the ball, so that you have to jump over the hurdle to head the ball.

Jumping over an obstacle is a great method of learning the diving header as it forces both feet to leave the ground.

Attacking Header Techniques

Attacking header techniques are football skills for directing the ball downwards to score goals, and win the ball in the air. The key to the attacking header is to get the eyes over the ball, so that you are attacking the ball from above.

The attacking header requires getting the forehead and eyes over the ball, so that the ball can be attacked from above. Beginners often have trouble timing the header, and end up hitting the nose or the top of the head, so coaches should start young children with a soft ball. Obviously, it's important to watch the football carefully! Balance is another point to watch, and beginners should try to get their feet into position early, so that they are behind the ball. Better players should work on meeting crosses on the move, so that their momentum helps to add power to the header, and to avoid being caught static by defenders.

Several factors help to obtain power in the attacking header. The shoulders can pushed forwards and the back arched before attacking the ball. The upper body should be kept in a straight line, not falling away to the side, and much of the power comes from the neck muscles. It's very important to be positive.

A simple training drill is illustrated in which the ball is thrown against a wall, and headed below the line. Numbered circular targets can also be made.