Intentional Heading v. Non-Intentional Heading

We know that heading at the 10U is discouraged, and is a indirect free kick (IDK) for the other team. One referee that I know will only give the IDK if he thinks the heading of the ball was intentional. From my understanding, we are to create an atmosphere of avoiding the heading as much as possible, and the referee should call it regardless of intentional or not.

If it’s deliberate, do you always enforce the requirement?

We first must acknowledge that the prohibition on heading the ball in AYSO is at the 11U and below levels (12U and below for programs without single age divisions) in both practices and matches (AYSO Referee Guidelines). The Guidelines also state that the prohibition is on deliberate heading, not unintentional heading.

So, a player whose head is hit by the ball, but did not clearly intend for it to do so, is not guilty of an offense. In addition, should a player get hit in the head with the ball with significant force to cause concern, stop play and restart as you would for an injury.

“If it’s deliberate, do you always enforce the requirement?” The short answer is yes, if the heading is deliberate, it must be called; even advantage cannot be applied (as in the case where a defender deliberately heads the ball and inadvertently scores an own goal).

The restart for deliberate heading is an indirect free kick, at the point of the infraction; unless it happens in the attacking goal area, in which case, as with any other indirect free kick offense, the restart is on the goal line, nearest to where the offense happened, parallel to the goal line.