It’s often a defender’s luck to be faced with a high-flying ball, either from a cross or a direct attack on goal. He needs to prepare for this situation by practising his headers.
The defender’s main interest in these situations is to get the ball as far away from his goal as he possibly can. The defensive header, also known as the ‘clearance’ header, is designed do this in the quickest and most efficient way. The defender puts the strength of his whole body behind the ball and drives it up and away from the goal.
How to perform a defensive header:
- Make sure that your eyes are below the level of the ball. This ensures you strike it with your forehead moving upwards. You should aim to strike at your hairline.
- Use your legs to boost your momentum and increase the power of your strike.
- Aim for the maximum strength and distance rather than accuracy.
Bear in mind that the ball may come in from any angle, but most of all the side. There will also be other players competing with you for it and it takes nerve to risk a hard knock on the head.
The defensive header can frequently be the last barrier standing between the opposition and your goalmouth; it can be of match-winning – or losing – importance.