Blackpool boss Neil Critchley supports study into impact of heading footballs

Neil Critchley is keeping an open mind about new proposals that could limit heading in football.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Read More
Angry Neil Critchley blasts his Blackpool side for failure to put 10-man Hull Ci...

The FA recently released new guidance to clubs about restricting footballers to 10 “higher-force” headers a week in training.

These were defined in a joint-statement by the authorities as “typically headers following a long pass (more than 35m) or from crosses, corners and free-kicks”.

Airborne action as Blackpool defend a set-piece against Barnsley on SaturdayAirborne action as Blackpool defend a set-piece against Barnsley on Saturday
Airborne action as Blackpool defend a set-piece against Barnsley on Saturday
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It comes amid studies into the potential health risks associated with regularly heading a ball, which could include dementia.

Critchley told The Gazette: “I wasn’t too concerned about the guidelines we got because I thought, ‘We don’t really go over that anyway’, so it’s not been an issue for us.

“Heading practice is not something we spend an enormous amount of time on. The defenders will do their bits of maintenance work, if you like, but we limit that.

“The guidelines talk about the velocity of the ball but how do you measure that?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We probably do a bit of work over shorter distances, so it’s about timing and technique. But again, it is limited and I wouldn’t do that over a long period.”

An outright ban on heading for younger children is also being considered. Children at primary school are not allowed to head a ball in training.

Given Critchley’s background in academy football, Pool’s head coach is intrigued to see what transpires.

He added: “I think a game is coming up in the near future where you can only head the ball in the penalty box or at a set-piece or something along those lines.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’m really intrigued to see what a game will look like with no heading. I think we all would be because we have to be open-minded.

“At Liverpool, they started introducing soft foam footballs for heading, just for a bit of fun, and the kids loved it. It was great.

“I’m sure Adidas or Nike will be coming up with something off the back of that. There might be a killing to be made somewhere!

“I’m supportive of it, though, because when you look at the number of ex-footballers suffering from dementia, then it’s something we’ve all got to take very seriously.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Why not pilot these and see where we get to? I’m fully supportive of it.”

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here