No-Header Movement Picks Up Steam in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania middle school has announced a “no-heading” policy for its middle school soccer teams.

The Washington Post has reported that the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pa. has instituted a policy that prohibits heading soccer balls in practice and discourages heading the ball in games.

“We thought, where is the information that’s telling us this is safe for kids to do?” Shipley Athletic Director Marc Duncan said. “Why wouldn’t we do this?’ There’s no way you can package it that it’s all right to do this.”

Chris Nowinski, co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, said the movement to band heading by young soccer players was a logical step.13521446093fm3m

“Hockey has raised the age of introducing checking, lacrosse has made all hits to the head illegal, but what’s kind of still out there is heading in soccer and repetitive brain trauma and tackling in football,” Nowinski told the Post. “The easiest way to protect the athletes and reduce problems would be to raise the age that we introduce heading in soccer.”

It is important to note that middle schoolers at Shipley “will learn heading under the policy, but coaches will use light training balls and limit time dedicated to the skill,” according to the article. “The school’s administrators understand players still will head the ball with their club teams and that some in-game knocks will be unavoidable.”

Duncan added: “We’re lessening the blows to them while they’re here. Maybe it’ll teach them to think about it: Instead of heading the ball, I’ll chest it next time. Maybe there’s a different way I can redirect the ball. Why would you inflict hits on a young, developing brain when you can control that?”

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