In a world first, a local academic has researched and demonstrated the impact of heading in the game and recommended the use of a lighter ball for training and improvement of heading technique especially in young players.
Dr Kerry Peek, senior lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Sydney is well known in the area of reducing sport-related head and neck injuries having previously worked with elite athletes in football, rugby union and Formula 1 in both the UK and Australia. She was also invited to present to the UEFA Medical Committee during the drafting of their heading guidelines released in May 2020, as well as presentations on heading planned for the International Olympic Committee World Conference on the Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport next year.
Kerry is the lead researcher on a number of scientific papers on heading, and has received support funding from both FIFA and Sports Medicine Australia for her latest research focused on ball characteristics and the effects of a neck strengthening exercise program on reducing head acceleration during heading in youth players. The key recommendation from the research is that lighter balls (or match balls with reduced ball pressure) should be used in training when heading is practised.
Image courtesy of Football NSW website