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The dive header technique for heading a ball at a low level

This is an excerpt from Soccer-4th Edition by Joseph Luxbacher.

Learn more about how to properly head a ball in
Soccer: Steps to Success, Fourth Edition.

Dive Header

The dive header technique is used to head a ball that is traveling parallel to the ground at waist level or lower. This situation may occur with a ball driven directly at you, but more often than not the dive header skill is used to head a ball crossed from the flank and traveling across the goal mouth. Defenders use this skill to clear balls out of the danger zone front and center of the goal, whereas attackers employ the dive header to score spectacular goals. In preparation to head the ball, square your shoulders, when possible, to the oncoming ball and assume a slightly crouched position (figure 4.2). Move toward the ball, anticipate its trajectory, and dive parallel to the ground to meet it. Tilt your head back with eyes open, mouth closed, and neck firm. Contact the ball on the flat surface of your forehead, just above your eyebrows. Extend your arms downward to break your fall to the ground.


The header lacks power or accuracy, or both.


Lack of power or poor accuracy means that you either mistimed the dive or failed to keep your head and neck firmly positioned as you contacted the ball. Tilt your head back, keep your neck firm, and contact the ball on the flat surface of your forehead.


The ball pops upward off your head.


When the ball pops up, it means that you have either contacted the ball too high on your forehead or dipped your head as the ball arrived. Keep your eyes on the ball, keep your head and neck firmly positioned, and contact the ball on the central area of your forehead, just above your eyebrows.

Figure 4.2 Dive Header


  1. Square shoulders to oncoming ball if possible.
  2. Flex knees with weight centered over balls of feet.
  3. Draw arms back and to sides.
  4. Focus vision on the ball.


  1. Move forward to intercept ball.
  2. Propel body toward ball parallel to ground.
  3. Tilt head back with neck firm.
  4. Extend arms forward and angled down.
  5. Keep eyes open and mouth closed.
  6. Contact ball on forehead.


  1. Maintain momentum forward through point of contact.
  2. Break fall with arms.
  3. Jump to feet.

Dive Header Drill 1 Fundamental Dive Headers

Perform this drill on a soft field surface or a gymnastic mat if training indoors. Face a server standing 10 yards away. The server tosses a ball toward you at approximately waist height. Flex your knees slightly, dive forward parallel to the ground, and contact the ball on the flat surface of your forehead. Extend your arms down to break your fall. Score 1 point for heading the ball directly back to the server so that he does not have to move more than one step in any direction to collect it. After each header, jump to your feet and prepare to head again. Head 10 tosses in succession; then switch roles with the server.

To Increase Difficulty

  • Increase number of repetitions.
  • Change angle of delivery of service.

To Decrease Difficulty

  • Start on all fours rather than diving from standing position.
  • Move closer to server.
  • Decrease number of repetitions.

Success Check

  • Dive parallel to ground.
  • Tilt head back with neck rigid.
  • Keep eyes open and mouth closed.
  • Contact ball on flat surface of forehead.

Score Your Success

0 to 4 points = 0 points

5 to 7 points = 1 point

8 to 10 points = 3 points

Your score ___

Dive Header Drill 2 Score Off Dive Headers

Play with two teammates within a 10- by 15-yard area. Place two flags to represent a goal 4 yards apart on one end of the area. One player stands in goal as the goalkeeper. One player, the server, stands to the side of the field, about 6 yards out from the end line. You get in position 10 yards front and center of the goal. The drill begins as the server tosses a ball across the goal mouth to simulate a crossed ball, at about waist height. Judge the flight of the ball and attempt to score using the dive header technique. Score 2 points for a goal scored and 1 point for a ball headed on goal but saved by the goalkeeper. Players rotate positions after each attempt on goal. Continue until each player has performed 20 dive headers.

To Increase Difficulty

  • Reduce size of goal.
  • Increase number of repetitions.

To Decrease Difficulty

  • Increase width of goal to 6 yards.
  • Do not use goalkeeper.

Read more from Soccer: Steps to Success by Joseph Luxbacher.

More Excerpts From Soccer 4th Edition



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