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We administered neurocognitive batteries to 49 youth soccer athletes (9–15 yr), who were selected from competitive soccer teams in Central Florida. We collected observational data on soccer heading, self-reported soccer heading, as well as demographics, including school, medical, and soccer history. Both the frequency and intensity of heading the ball in soccer was low in comparison with adolescents and adults. In our sample, the vast majority of soccer headings were of low to moderate intensity and direct (i.e., the incoming flight of the ball was perpendicular to the forehead). Age significantly correlated with frequent heading. Parents were reliable observers of their children’s soccer heading behavior and other at-risk behaviors during games. The majority of soccer headings were direct rather than flicks. Almost half of our participants reported headache and one-fourth reported dizziness after instances of heading the ball. Frequency of soccer heading was not related to neuropsychological score data.
The authors are with the College of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.