This study compared changes in neurocognitive performance and symptom reports following an acute bout of soccer heading among athletes with and without protective soccer headgear. A total of 25 participants headed a soccer ball 15 times over a 15-minute period, using a proper linear heading technique. Participants in the experimental group completed the heading exercise while wearing a protective soccer headband and controls performed the heading exercise without wearing the soccer headband. Neurocognitive performance and symptom reports were assessed before and after the acute bout of heading. Participants wearing the headband showed significant decreases on verbal memory (p = 0.02) compared with the no headband group, while the no headband group demonstrated significantly faster reaction time (p = 0.03) than the headband group following the heading exercise. These findings suggest that protective soccer headgear likely does not mitigate the subtle neurocognitive effects of acute soccer heading.
Keywords: neurocognitive performance; soccer headgear; soccer heading.