5 Myths About Soccer Headgear—Including Our Own
Oct 25, 2023
We’re back with our latest episode of “Debunking Soccer Headgear”.
We’re joking—there is no such show, at least not yet. But we’ve written many posts in the past that highlight what soccer headgear can and cannot do, and we’re back at it again.
In this case, we’re here to address some prevailing myths and misconceptions about soccer headgear. Our purpose is to demystify head protection, so that you and all other footy players have realistic expectations about it.
Myth 1: Soccer headgear can prevent all head injuries.
If a manufacturer says their headgear can prevent all head injuries, they’re telling you a fib—scratch that, they’re spouting outright fairy tales. No headgear can offer 100% protection against head injuries. For example, concussions start with excessive force transferred through the neck, something that headgear can reduce but not stop completely. Also, even while wearing headgear, subconcussive damage can still occur from constant heading if the force is too great.
But wearing headgear at least offers a measure of protection. It cushions the forces of direct impact from the ball during heading, in particular, and may reduce the g-forces that contribute to concussions. That leads us to our next point.
Myth 2: Soccer headgear lacks research to support its effectiveness.
We’ve seen articles treat the idea of effective headgear like folklore, which is strange because there’s research to support head protection’s efficacy. True, it’s not extensive—kinda like the research that says it doesn’t work—but it’s out there and the results are telling.
With that said, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab launched a landmark study to demonstrate which headgear actually worked. Researchers tested 22 models, three of which scored at five out of five stars and reduced concussion risk by at least 70%. Among them was our ExoShield headguard, which scored highest, reducing concussion risk by 84% in simulated models.
Myth 3: All soccer headgear is equal.
When it comes to performance, the headgear you need might not be in your league. Just look at our previous section. Out of the 22 models tested, only three stood out in terms of performance. So, that right there, says it all—some headgear is not worth your time (or dollars), whereas others are better options.
For example, we built our ExoShield headgear using military-grade foam, material fitted into the helmets of U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force service people. That’s not the norm. And that’s the reason why our head guard ranked at #1 in the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab study. It’s also a reason why it received an ASTM certification—the only one to do so—meaning it delivers the highest standard of safety for its product category.
You won’t find characteristics like these in all headgear, making it even more important to choose your head protection wisely.
Myth 4: Soccer headgear lets you ignore header technique.
If you’re not heading the ball properly, your risk of head injury can go up even if you’re wearing headgear. Remember, headgear doesn’t guarantee protection from head injuries. Conversely, proper header technique significantly reduces the risk of brain injuries.
The sweet spot is to step into the header (not waiting for it to smack your head), and strike with the frontal area of your head. That is the area just below your hairline, and it’s the thickest part of your skull, making it most suitable for heading the ball. Also, you should contract your neck muscles since doing so helps them absorb more concussive forces like shocks in a car.
Myth 5: All soccer headgear looks ugly.
It’s not 2005 anymore so no—headgear isn’t as dorky as it used to look. The days of wearing a full-covering helmet is over and if you wear one, it’s by choice. Design aesthetics have changed a lot, so you can still wear headgear that looks good while still getting a decent amount of head protection.
Our ExoShield headguard ticks off those boxes. It has a sleeker look, one that’s closer to a headband, and without a boxy or odd look in any way. It only covers the areas of your skull that need protection the most, so it’s not clunky, blocky, or cumbersome.
Taking the Hocus Pocus Out of Headgear
Yes, myths about headgear still persist, and will likely continue until more research emerges. But we take a firm stance that wearing head protection is better than wearing none at all. Not only is there research to support it, but many players have come forward and said how it has prevented them from getting a second concussion.
For example, we had a sit down with OL Reign forward, Bethany Balcer, who detailed how it prevented her from getting reinjured again. We also laid out the history of soccer headgear, and how some of the biggest names on the pitch made it an essential piece of gear.
Head protection may not yet be a staple, but it has made a difference for many. And if you’re serious about your career longevity, wearing headgear can make all the difference for you too.
Looking to lower your risk of concussions and subconcussive damage? Shop for our ExoShield headguard to give yourself head protection you can rely on.