Dementia in football: Chelsea may restrict heading in training as Frank Lampard calls for more research

James Robson
·3-min read
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Frank Lampard is considering restricting heading in training in light of growing concerns over the link between football and dementia.

The Chelsea manager revealed earlier this month that he fears the effects on his own long-term health following the number of cases of ex-players being diagnosed with the disease.

He is calling for reform at youth level – but says the dangers associated with heading the ball have also led him to review his own processes with Chelsea’s first team squad.

Lampard said: “I think we can work up the pyramid and we should. Already I’m certainly considering it in how we train here because of the seriousness of the issue.

“If there has to be a get-together of the smart minds that have put research into this – maybe ex-players - and if there are restrictions and if we are much more careful about how we train in terms of heading balls, I think we should look at it seriously.”

<p>Lampard understands the seriousness of the situation</p>POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Lampard understands the seriousness of the situation

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton is the latest former player to be diagnosed with dementia.

Research published last year claimed footballers were three and a half times more likely to develop neurodegenerative conditions as a result of repeated heading of the ball.

Guidelines released by the FA this year stated that children aged 11 and under will no longer participate in heading training.

Lampard admits it is difficult to implement at senior level.

“I think it has to be very structured from a younger age group,” he said. “The rules need to be stronger to make sure we’re not making young children head the ball. In developing years that’s more than possible.

“At a professional level because small gains in sport are huge, we all have to be working under the same guidelines and we have to trust each other that we are. At the moment there are no guidelines.

“If we were to restrict the training element when you ask players to head a ball on a Saturday I don’t think it’s possible. It would have to be something that goes across the board.

“I think we have to start with youth football and at the younger end of the spectrum for younger players and children that are developing and their bodies are developing.

“We really can control the levels we train. I’m not sure technically how important it is to overload training at that age and if we know now there is a health aspect to it, I think we control that.

“Again would lay that one on experts to set down the foundations, but anything we can do to make it more safe we should.”

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