Heading Technique to be Banned in Youth Football

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. prompt / prɒmpt / (v) – to cause something to happen

    The bad weather prompted airlines to cancel trips.

  2. vulnerable / ˈvʌl nər ə bəl / (adj) – easily affected by diseases

    Proper hygiene will make you less vulnerable to the flu.

  3. mitigate / ˈmɪt ɪˌgeɪt / (v) – to lessen or reduce

    A healthy diet can mitigate the effects of the disease.

  4. do away with (something) / dʊ əˈweɪ wɪθ / (idiom) – to remove or get rid of something

    The company is doing away with strict dress codes to make the staff more comfortable working.

  5. reassurance / ˌriːəˈʃʊər əns / (n) – something that makes someone less worried

    A memo regarding the safety of the school trip gave reassurance to the parents.


Read the text below.

Football associations in the United Kingdom released new guidelines that ban heading, or using the head, in youth football.

What prompted the associations to create the guidelines was a study called Football’s InfluencE on Lifelong health and Dementia risk (FIELD). Researchers from the University of Glasgow compared the health records of former football athletes in Scotland with individuals from the general public. The study revealed that football players were more vulnerable to brain diseases, like dementia or memory loss, and motor neuron diseases that manifest in weakening muscle movements.

The Scottish Football Association (Scottish FA) clarified that there was no clear evidence that heading directly caused brain diseases, but it implemented the guidelines to mitigate further risks.

Following the guidelines, coaches will not teach heading to players below 12. In the 12 to 15 age group, only a few players would be allowed to practice it. Sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds could practice heading, but they would be limited to only one practice session weekly.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said that the goal of the ban is for coaches to do away with heading among young football players and introduce the technique at an age prescribed by medical professionals. He also emphasized that the organization would continuously review the guidelines to make sure that it serves its purpose of providing a safer environment for the players.

Dr. John MacLean, co-author of the FIELD study and a Scottish FA medical consultant, also believes that the new guidelines will give reassurance to young athletes and their families.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that football players under 18 should completely be banned from heading during training? Why or why not?
• How do you think coaches can make sure that children follow the guidelines? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Aside from football, what other sports put athletes at high risk of long-term injury?
• What do you think athletes can do to mitigate sports-related health problems in the future? Discuss.

Category : Health