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A survey on the English FA heading guidelines for youth soccer: evidence of compliance, but with limited knowledge of safety

Roberts, JW, Towlson, CP and Malone, JJ A survey on the English FA heading guidelines for youth soccer: evidence of compliance, but with limited knowledge of safety. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching. ISSN 1747-9541 (Accepted)

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Abstract

Soccer heading may be problematic for neurocognitive function. The English Football Association (FA) recently introduced guidelines in order to limit the number of headers within training for youth soccer. However, it remains to be seen what the influence of these guidelines has been on the leaders of soccer teams that are primarily responsible for implementing the guidelines. Thus, we aimed to explore grassroot youth coaches’ knowledge of, views on, and adherence to the heading guidelines. An online survey was distributed to team representatives across Local County FAs. The survey comprised of three sections: (1) background information, (2) heading practices including details on heading activities and views on heading safety, and (3) heading guidelines including levels of awareness, knowledge, and compliance. 240 coaches responded by stating they rarely (21%) or never (73%) practiced heading, although they mostly perceived heading as being somewhat safe (36%). While respondents indicated being only somewhat aware of the guidelines (43%), they scored very high on their perceived (92%) and actual (based on retrospective accounts of heading) (87%) compliance with the guidelines. There was a mixed perceived change within practice following the introduction of the guidelines (disagree = 26% vs. agree = 22%), and they were perceived as safe (86%) and appropriate (81%). Factors that were identified as being potential barriers were only marginally agreed upon (<30%) and tended to be related to in-game rules. While there is scope to successfully implement heading guidelines, there is some discrepancy between the requirements for heading safety and coaches’ knowledge.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This paper has been accepted for publication in: International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2022 09:36
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 09:45
DOI or Identification number: 10.1177/17479541221075213
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15992

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