No heading in Youth football June 2024

Video explains new rule about heading

THE FA have released a video to explain the changes to heading in Youth football.

THE FA have released a video to explain the changes to heading in Youth football.

It will be a mandatory rule that players in U7s, U8s and U9s football will not be allowed to deliberately head the ball in the 2024-25 season.

After two seasons of the International Football Association Board [IFAB] trial in English football, The FA will now introduce a new rule to phase out deliberate heading in matches in all affiliated grassroots youth football between U7-U11 level over the next three seasons.

This includes all leagues, clubs and any affiliated school football matches – starting with U7-U9 level from the 2024-25 season, then increasing to include U10 level from 2025-26, and U11 level from 2026-27.

The introduction of the new rule follows a consultation and discussion process with representatives across the

grassroots game, including the National Game Board, the FA Development Committee and the wider County FA


It has also been approved by the FA Board and the FA shareholders, who comprise a wide range of key stakeholders from across English football, with representation from the professional and grassroots game.



The FA first introduced the IFAB trial with the aim to help positively shape grassroots youth football – and to ensure that matches at this level are aligned to their current heading guidance for training.

This was established in 2020 following consultation with the grassroots game, coaches and other experts across football, and recommends that heading is removed or restricted at this level.

The FA also adopted the IFAB trial to help reduce any potential risk factors that may be linked to heading the ball, including injuries from head-to-head, elbow-to-head, or head to ground contact.

The FA continue to play a leading role in reviewing and improving the safety of our game. This includes investing in and supporting multiple research projects in adult football to gain a greater insight and understanding of this complex area.

During this time, The FA have worked with stakeholders across English football to review and proactively address potential risk factors which may be associated with football whilst research continues in this area, including ongoing dialogue with the international governing bodies.

The gradual introduction of the new rule over the next three seasons will support the players’ journey as they adapt from deliberately heading the ball in grassroots youth football matches.

It has been decided that asgrassroots players move from primary to secondary school, heading the ball will be introduced at this natural

transition point in their U12 season.

Throughout this period, The FA will research, review and analyse the way that it is being implemented to help identify ways of improving the experience for players and referees.

The FA will also continue to review and evolve the current heading guidance for training to ensure it meets the requirements of the game.

This includes providing coaches and players with innovative technical support and guidance so that they can prepare for the transition into heading the ball in youth matches.




The FA have researched and collected feedback from leagues and clubs taking part in the IFAB trial to remove deliberate heading in grassroots football matches at U12 level and below to see how the experience of the players taking part could be further improved.

The aim is to also create more technical opportunities for players

with the ball at their feet, allow for more effective playing time, and to reduce the amount of time the ball is in the air during a match.

As a result, from the start of the 2024-25 season for U7-U9 teams, we will also be rolling out the following:


Deliberate Header Restart:

• Deliberately heading the ball is an offence punishable by an indirect free kick

• The indirect free kick is taken at the point where the ball was deliberately headed, except:

o Where a player deliberately heads the ball within their own penalty area, the referee will stop

the game and restart with an indirect free kick to the opposition from the nearest side line of

the penalty area where the offence took place


Touchline Restart:

• When the whole of the ball passes over the whole of the touchline, on the ground or in the air, instead of a throw-in, a pass-in/dribble-in is awarded

• The kicker that takes the pass-in/dribble-in may touch the ball again before it is touched by another player

• At the moment of delivering the ball:

o The ball must be stationary on the touchline at the point where it left the pitch; only the kicker may be off the pitch

o All opponents must stand at least five yards from the point on the touchline where the pass-in or /dribble-in is to be taken from

• A goal cannot be scored directly from a pass-in

• The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves


Sanctions in the event of a deliberate header in a match:

• From the start of the 2024-25 season, there will be no disciplinary sanctions applied for a deliberate header in a match, unless the action is considered a persistent deliberate offence, which could then result in a caution

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