seal  Purdue News

May 22, 2003

Heading soccer balls could be dangerous for children

Hitting a soccer ball with your head may help your team win, but if you're too young, your brain may be the loser, according to a Purdue University scientist.

Purdue's Charles Babbs has studied the physical effects of "heading" a soccer ball. He found that while trained adult players can do it with no more brain stress than nodding causes, a younger player's brain is at significantly greater risk from head-ball impacts.

"This is true even though youth soccer balls are smaller than those used in the adult game," said Babbs, a professor of basic medical sciences in Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine. "The smaller 'size 4' ball does not adequately compensate for the smaller size of pre-teen players, who may not be as well-prepared to absorb the shock as adults."

Babbs has specific recommendations for concerned soccer players, and has based his conclusions on both medical science and physics. For more information, contact him directly.

CONTACT: Babbs, (765) 496-2661,