Head For Safety: A quantitative analysis of headgear effectiveness in soccer

Karl Smith


Soccer players of all ages put their body on the field for up to ninety minutes every game. Players run the risk of injury like any contact sport, but they also face damaging blows to their brains when heading soccer balls. Although protective headgear is available, it is seldom utilized. In this experiment, a soccer ball was launched at various angles and speeds at a ballistic dummy with and without headgear to measure the effectiveness of the headgear in reducing the acceleration that the head experiences upon impact with a soccer ball. An accelerometer placed within the dummys skull measured the motion of its head upon collision with the ball. The motion was measured as voltages in the x, y, and z directions. These voltages were combined and converted into accelerations in terms of g. Nine different configurations (three speeds and three angles) were tested and in all cases the acceleration was lower when the headgear was used.