Test 5: Perfect weight
The world’s best defenders sometimes seem like brick walls that hardly any striker can get past and, pushing forward, they use their strength in the air to score goals. Defenders like Jaap Stam, Sol Campbell and Alessandro Nesta use their ability not only to provide an impenetrable rearguard, but also to score towering headed goals.
How can you brush up your heading skills?
Confidence and timing play a key role in both attacking and defensive heading.
The attacking header
Direction is all-important if you are heading for goal and it is always best to head the ball downwards in order to increase your chances of hitting the target and stretching the goalkeeper. Timing is not only important when making contact with the ball, but also when jumping. Try to make contact with the ball when you are still rising in the air in order to gain more momentum.
The defensive header
Getting sufficient height and distance to clear the ball away from the goal or out of the penalty area are the most important factors, so strength is essential. Do not just use your head and neck muscles, but jump strongly and get your entire upper body behind the header. You should try to overcome any fear and keep your eyes open when you make contact with the ball. If your eyes are shut, your head will automatically drop slightly and the ball will not hit your forehead.
The seven tests
that a football
has to pass to receive
a FIFA quality mark
Some of the confidence you need for heading comes from knowing precisely how heavy the ball is. You then know how much power you need to get behind your header. In the fifth FIFA test, the ball is weighed three times in a sealed cabinet, thus ensuring that the measurement is not influenced by air pressure.