Does soccer ball heading cause retinal bleeding?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Apr;156(4):337-40. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.4.337.


Objectives: To define forces of youth soccer ball heading (headers) and determine whether heading causes retinal hemorrhage.

Setting: Regional Children's Hospital, youth soccer camp.

Patients: Male and female soccer players, 13 to 16 years old, who regularly head soccer balls.

Measurements: Dilated retinal examination, after 2-week header diary, and accelerometer measurement of heading a lofted soccer ball.

Results: Twenty-one youth soccer players, averaging 79 headers in the prior 2 weeks, and 3 players who did not submit header diaries lacked retinal hemorrhage. Thirty control subjects also lacked retinal hemorrhage. Seven subjects heading the ball experienced linear cranial accelerations of 3.7 +/- 1.3g. Rotational accelerations were negligible.

Conclusions: Headers, not associated with globe impact, are unlikely to cause retinal hemorrhage. Correctly executed headers did not cause significant rotational acceleration of the head, but incorrectly executed headers might.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration / adverse effects
  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Soccer*
  • Washington / epidemiology