ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Can you really learn the game of soccer without first learning to head the ball? That’s the trend in coaching these days, especially when it comes to younger kids.

And a local pediatric sports medicine specialist welcomes the move by a local sports program to not teach young soccer players how to head the ball.

Soccer Shots, a franchise that teaches soccer fundamentals to thousands of young kids, prohibits their coaches from teaching children between 2 and 8-years-old how to head the ball. Washington University Orhopedics specialist Dr. Mark Halstead wholeheartedly agrees.

“Their neck development and their overall development of their skills in order to properly head the ball isn’t there yet,” Halstead said. “It’s actually not advocated that kids that age should be doing that to begin with, so programs that actually are teaching kids to head the ball at that age are actually doing so inappropriately.”

Halstead says any soccer program that teaches kids younger than 9 how to head the ball is ignoring the advice of the American Pediatric Association.

But by the age of 10, 11 or 12, kids have enough muscle development and strength in their neck, so teaching purposeful heading of the ball is okay.


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