Factors Influencing Wearable-Derived Head Impact Kinematics in Soccer Heading

J. Kern, J. Hermsdörfer, P. Gulde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


› Problem Statement: Soccer players expose themselves to repetitive head impacts (RHI) by purposefully heading the ball – an act that has been suggested to adversely affect brain structure and function and potentially contribute to the long-term development of neurode-generative disorders. A deeper understanding of the head’s kinematic response to these RHI is crucial to assess the actual risk resulting from routine soccer heading. To that aim, we investigated the influence of a comprehensive set of heading-related factors on the resulting linear and rotational acceleration of the head, as obtained by wearable sensors in a field study. › Methods: Across 26 matches, 19 semi-professional female soccer players (23.0±3.7 years) were equipped with wearable head impact sensors that registered peak linear acceleration (PLA) and peak rotational acceleration (PRA) of on-field head impact events. Actual headers were confirmed and further allocated to the following categories using video analyses: Scenario, Distance, Player Movement, Ball Reflection, Impact Location, Duel, Jump. Linear mixed models were used to assess the relationships between these factors and PLA as well as PRA. › Results: Average PLA and PRA of the head due to heading was 29.6 (±18.1) g and 6195.6 (±4448.1) rad/s2, respectively. Analyses revealed a statistically significant influence of three factors on both PLA (R2=0.34) and PRA (R2=0.37). Next to subject-related factors (p<0.001; proportional variance: 12.6% [PLA] and 19.0% [PRA]), especially longer in-air distances of the ball prior to heading (p<0.001; proportional variance: 24.6% [PLA] and 19.2% [PRA]) as well as a greater extent of ball reflection due to a header (p<0.001; proportional variance: 9.2% [PLA] and 6.9% [PRA]) were significantly associated with increases in head impact kinematics. › Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that the ball’s travelling distance and the extent of ball reflection due to a header directly affect the head’s kinematic response to purposeful headers in female players. Along with these factors, future studies should focus on the direct assessment of inter-individual differences in heading technique and anthropometric variables to increase the current understanding of the potential risk resulting from RHI due to soccer heading.

Translated title of the contributionEinflussfaktoren auf die mittels tragbarer Sensortechnik erfasste Kopf beschleunigung bei Kopf bällen im Fußball
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
JournalDeutsche Zeitschrift fur Sportmedizin
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Concussion
  • Head Impact Kinematics
  • On-Field
  • Repetitive Head Impacts
  • Wearable Sensors


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