Curbing concussions in all sports is high on the minds of most every leader and thinker imaginable, and soccer is no different. But with soccer, banning headers in certain youth levels is not only a question about safety and health, but a developmental question too. Naturally, America’s best and brightest soccer players and analysts have chimed in, and now, add former USMNT star Landon Donovan to the mix.
“I think until you’re a certain age there’s no need for it,” Donovan said in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show. “A 10 year old does not need to be heading a soccer ball. It’s not like they’re gaining much in the game by doing that. You can teach them how to do it and then by the time they hit 15, 16, 17 start to allow it a little bit more but there’s no need for someone of that age to be heading a soccer ball just like there’s no need for someone of that age to be tackling in football.”
Eliminating heading in soccer at early age groups is one way to eliminate early accumulation of head injuries, say supporters of that measure. But opponents believe it is an important part of the game to learn, even if it isn’t oft used in those youth games. Now, you can count Donovan as another opponent.