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Concussions in soccer are often coincident with the act of heading the ball, and some researchers have reported that soccer heading is associated with neurocoginitive decrements. This study aimed to understand (a) the personality factors that may predict frequent soccer heading, and (b) how knowledge of players’ personality traits might help sport counselors persuade neurologically at-risk players to moderate their heading behavior. Sixty elite male soccer players (ages 16-34) completed structured self-report interviews, the NEO-FFI personality inventory, and the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking. Players who headed most had significantly higher extraversion scores than comparison athletes and soccer players who headed less. Physical height was the best predictor of heading frequency but was not correlated with extraversion, which was also a significant predictor. Players with the typical profile of the high heading group may be more resistant to suggestion that they alter their style of play for safety reasons.
The authors are with the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.