Heading the ball, or using one's head to direct the ball, during soccer practices or games may increase a player's risk for brain injuries, according to a recent study done by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.
Soccer balls travel at 34 mph during amateur games and at more than twice that speed during professional play. The study showed that although each individual heading is not enough to damage the brain, heading the ball frequently and repetitively can cause cells within the brain to deteriorate. Researchers said that these small hits could end up being more dangerous than a concussion.
The study also reported a threshold for which heading was not a problem, saying that 1,000-1,500 headings a year should not be exceeded. That may seem like a hard-to-reach figure, but it is a rate which most players can easily exceed with only four or five headings a day.