Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Athletic Training

Committee Chair

Michelle A. Sandrey

Committee Co-Chair

Benjamin Moorehead

Committee Member

Victor H. Mucino


Context: Repetitive sub-concussive impacts have recently been recognized as a contributing factor of long-term cognitive deficits. The potential for this to affect soccer players participating at a high level is great due to the constant intentional use of the unprotected head when playing. Examining the force with which a soccer ball strikes an athlete's head during the act of heading is important to determine if there is a potential risk for long term consequences. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine how much force is associated with heading in soccer. The variability between goal and corner kicks and throw-ins were examined. A secondary purpose was to determine if this information is indicative of soccer players potentially being at risk due to repetitive sub-concussive impacts. Design: This was a prospective descriptive study which examined the forces transferred from a soccer ball to the head during simulated soccer heading scenarios. Setting: Collegiate soccer conditions in the Mid-Atlantic part of the country. Patients and Other Participants: Using a sample of convenience, three male collegiate soccer players between the ages of 19-22 playing at a D1 level at the time of the study were used. Subjects were selected if they headed the ball five or more times in a game, had five or more years of playing experience at the time of the study and had not had any head or neck injuries in the six months preceding the study. Interventions: Each subject went through a series of 3 different heading scenarios, heading the ball 5 times for each scenario. Heading was done with goal kicks, corner kicks and throw-ins. Pressure film on the subjects' head recorded the force during the act of heading. Film was changed following each header and then sent to the lab for analysis. The analysis included minimum, maximum and average pressure. Main Outcome Measures: The forces recorded with heading the soccer ball during all three heading scenarios will be comparable to the numbers seen with football and ice hockey players. The forces seen with a goal kick will be higher on average than those recorded with corner kicks and throw-ins. Results: Ball speeds were found to range from 26-57 mph across 42 trials of three different heading scenarios. Goal kicks were found to produce the highest speeds and forces recorded with throw-in's produced the lowest speeds and forces. Forces ranged from 364.34 lbf -- 1070.18 lbf. Conclusions: Current research suggests that while the forces acting on the head during heading are below the accepted value for concussion there is still a risk for cumulative damage secondary to repetitive impacts sustained at sub-concussive levels. Further examination of duration of impact, acceleration/deceleration of the head and cognitive testing in former players who were considered headers is suggested to better understand the risk posed by repetitive heading.