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Hit the ball with the head. Itís now or never.

One of the greatest problems in forming a young player, boys and girls, is to teach them to hit the ball with the head, in particular after a punt from the keepers.

They always have the wrong sensation that it will hurt. This is the first mistake that makes it hurt, because going to hit the ball while afraid of getting hurt, totally defending themselves from the ball, with their eyes almost closed, can only lead to getting hurt, instead of hitting it properly.

After that, itís hard to repeat the experiment! Better to let someone else do it, so no one goes to the ball and it keeps bouncing forever until someone, very often the opposing team, catches it.

Itís perfectly understandable and comprehensible. I donít blame the young players for doing that, but itís a problem that has to be solved, because if itís not solved at the beginning, it becomes chronic.

I found this solution and I hope it will be useful to all of you, too.

The first step in teaching young players to hit the ball with the head is to get into the right position for doing it, because by continuing to avoid Ďheadingí, they stand and let the ball rebound on ground.

This is exercise #1.

-Place all the players in a kind of grid on the field according to the power of the keeperís punt.
-The keeper punts the ball has hard as he or she can in the middle of that grid.
-The players closest to the point where the ball will land, has to move and try to catch the ball with their hands.
-The ball should not touch the ground for any reason in the world and, if this happens, the whole team does ten push-ups.

In doing this itís clear that we achieve the first step. Players go to the right position where the ball would land. In the future they will find the courage to hit it with their head.

To do the second step and go to hitting the ball, try exercise #2.

Instead of catching the ball with the hands, all the players adjust themselves to let the ball rebound 1 time.
Now that the Ďheadingí is much softer, when the ball comes back after the first rebound, the player closest to the ball hits it with the head to a teammate on the left or the right.
The rule in this exercise is that the ball has to be hit after the first rebound and canít touch the ground a second time.
Tell the keeper to kick the ball in every direction so all the players on rotation will head the ball by going to the correct position.

They will get it very soon because itís the responsibility of the closest player to do it, otherwise the whole team does the famous 10 push-ups. And donít think that youíre being too harsh in making them do the push-ups. If you donít do it, every time they miss the ball they just laugh! On the contrary, in this way the laughing stops very soon and they catch the ball.

Emphasize to all of them, learning how to judge the point of landing by moving back and forth and not waiting like a statue on the grass. So minimum go 10 yards behind the first point of landing and after head it.

In a few practices youíll see an enormous improvement. At least the players will go to the right spot. With a little time, confidence and specific exercises in which the players work in pairs heading the ball back and forth between them, all the rest will follow. Start very close and add distance progressively.

If they donít do this when they are young, youíll spend a lot more time to try to teach them to hit the ball properly, supposing that itís possible at all.

So, itís now or never.

Coach Gianni
Posted on 24 Aug 2006 by coachgianni
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