Because of concerns for the safety of younger players, beyond the limitations of the laws of the game, Brookside Soccer Club will implement the header rules for 3rd/4th grade and below, that are modified USSF recommended rules.
– Headers are not allowed and coaches are asked to instruct players to not intentionally head the ball.
– No goal will be allowed if scored with the head – even if accidental.
– During the course of play, intentional header will result in an indirect kick for the opposing team. Unintentional header determination is at the discretion of the referee (like the handball).
– Any potential head injury will require immediate play stoppage regardless of the goal or advantage situation.
Heading the ball is defined as a player using or attempting to use his/her own head to play the ball. Should a referee, assistant referee, or a coach see a player head the ball, they will inform the player they may not head the ball and play continues on. There is no stoppage of play or restart awarded. This does not apply to a player being struck in the head by a ball he/she didn’t intend to play in that manner.
While referees might stop play in this circumstance to evaluate potential injury, should the player show any of the signs referees watch for that might indicate a serious injury, per the laws of the game that restart would be a dropped ball.
Referees and coaches must understand that heading the ball is NOT a violation of the laws of the game, so no criteria associated with fouls or infractions of the laws, should be applied to this violation of league safety requirements except those mentioned above.
Coaches must instruct players not to head the ball and referees must use common sense. Likewise, players who are guilty of heading the ball should never be issued a caution or sending off. The referee should rather focus on helping the players understand the rule and explain that the league does not allow heading.