Heading in Soccer: Dangerous Play?
Soccer is the world’s most popular sport and unique in that players use their unprotected heads to intentionally deflect, stop or redirect the ball for both offensive and defensive strategies. Headed balls travel at high velocity pre- and post-impact. Players, coaches, parents and physicians are justifiably concerned with soccer heading injury risk. Furthermore, risk of long term neurocognitive and motor deficits due to repetitively heading a soccer ball remains unknown. We review the theoretical concerns, the results of biomechanical laboratory experiments and the available clinical data regarding the effects of chronic, sub-concussive head injury during heading in soccer.