Limit of 10 'higher force' headers a week in training in England

Burnley's Chris Wood battles for a header with Luke Ayling of Leeds United
Burnley’s Chris Wood battles for a header with Luke Ayling of Leeds United during a Premier League game

Professional footballers in England are to be limited to 10 “higher force headers” a week in training under new guidelines for the upcoming season.

It comes after recent “multiple studies” were conducted into concerns about the long-term dangers of heading.

In 2019, a study found professional footballers were more likely to suffer from neurodegenerative brain disease.

Guidance for amateurs is “10 headers per session and only one session a week where heading practice is included”.

It comes after an MPs’ inquiry earlier in July said that sport has been allowed to “mark its own homework” on reducing the risks of brain injury.

“The preliminary studies identified the varying forces involved in heading a football, which were provided to a cross-football working group to help shape the guidance,” said a joint statement on behalf of the Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers Association regarding the professional game.

“Based on those early findings, which showed the majority of headers involve low forces, the initial focus of the guidance will be on headers that involve higher forces.

“These are typically headers following a long pass (more than 35m) or from crosses, corners and free-kicks.

“It will be recommended that a maximum of 10 higher force headers are carried out in any training week.

“This recommendation is provided to protect player welfare and will be reviewed regularly as further research is undertaken to understand more regarding the impact of heading in football.”

Research into football and head trauma has shown professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die from dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.

The Premier League introduced a trial of additional permanent concussion substitutions in February, while the FA introduced head injury substitutes into the FA Cup in February.

Children aged 11 and are no longer taught to head footballs during training in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while FA guidelines for coaches also puts limits on how much heading older children should do.

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