Mastering the art of the header

By Ed Rietveld and Jacob Onak

Even though the sport of soccer is called football in all areas of the world except the U.S., players are allowed to use more than just their feet.

Players are allowed to use is their heads for both offensive and defensive purposes.

Junior defender/mid-fielder Courtney Ksiazek said in order to execute a header a player might use a very interesting technique that she learned.

“A lot of times you talk a lot about core strength and rocking back and forth through your middle and your hips,” Ksaiek said. “So, that’s really important, and also people use the metaphor sometimes, where you are pretending you’re like throwing yourself through a window, like holding the frame and pushing yourself through to get that rocking motion.”

As a defender, Ksaizek said there are certain times a header is most effective.

“I would say, pretty much, anytime you’re under pressure,” Ksaizek said. “Because you don’t have a lot of time in the defense, so as soon as you can get the ball to the players on the ends you want to be able to head it out before they get to it.”

Sophomore defender/mid-fielder Lauren Noonan said there are differences in how a forward uses a header compared to their defensive counterparts.

“With a defender’s type of header, they want to make sure that they can clear the ball and get it out over to their forwards,” Noonan said. “And for a mid-fielder and forward we actually want to make sure that ours are more direct and driven, because most of the time if we have the ball it would be on a corner or free kick, and we want to keep it low and driven so we can get it passed their goalie.”

In a game, a quality, open header is hard to come by. Men’s defender Dusty Page said that there are a lot of individual battles going on off the ball.

“The thing that people don’t understand about a header, is that a lot of the battle is won while the ball is in the air,” Page said. “If you get ground on somebody or get some space it’s a lot easier to head the ball.”

While having to fight for position, along with some of the strong winds here in DeKalb, Page said getting good power on a header can be difficult, but using your neck is a good technique.

“Sometimes it hurts, I’m not going to lie,” Page said. “Especially if you hit it off the wrong part of the head, but if you hit it at the top of the forehead it usually doesn’t hurt to bad. You got to get a strong snap of the neck and make sure you make good contact with the ball and you should get some good power.”

For men’s striker James Stevenson, battling against bigger defenders for a header is part of the job.

“As a striker you usually have, like a 6 foot, 8 inch giant elbowing you, so you have to try and use his body to your advantage,” Stevenson said. “Timing is quite important as well, you can usually win a header by good timing. If you have good timing and good neck muscles you can hit the best header you can hit.”