In soccer, heading the ball is almost as common as kicking it for Missouri soccer kids. That’s going to change for players 13 and under thanks to a recent decision by US Soccer. Under the organization’s new rules, athletes younger than 11 will no longer be allowed to head the ball during practice or play, while 11-13 year-old players will only be allowed to head in practice.
These new rules are designed to limit the number of concussions experienced by youth soccer players.
YOUTH SOCCER CLOSE BEHIND FOOTBALL FOR CONCUSSION RISKS
Concussions have been a growing problem in youth soccer which now ranks second only to football for concussion risk. Soccer is often viewed as a safe sport because player-to-player contact is prohibited, but contact still occurs and can lead to concussions. According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, one-third of soccer concussions come from heading.
Heading contributes to concussion risk in two key ways. The ball itself can cause concussions when it strikes the skull repeatedly. During heading practice, players may head the ball as many as 100 times in less than an hour. While an adult may be able to handle repeated impact, this activity can cause concussions in younger players because their brains are more vulnerable to trauma than adult brains. The second risk comes when two or more players attempt to head the same ball. If their heads collide, resulting injuries could include concussions.
LAWSUIT RESULT: NEW STRICTER HEADING RESTRICTIONS & OTHER YOUTH SOCCER REFORMS
US Soccer and its associates were sued last year for not promoting safe play in their soccer clubs. The organization implemented the new heading restrictions as well as other reforms as part of a recent settlement with the plaintiffs. US Soccer revealed it was already planning on implementing stricter heading rules regardless of the lawsuit.
The reforms will establish new protocols for concussion management as well as dictate how players are cleared to return to play. Additionally, coaches are parents will receive more concussion awareness education, and players who leave the game with suspected concussions will not be counted as one of the team’s limited substitutions.
NEW HEADING PROTOCOLS NOT UNIVERSAL: SOCCER CONCUSSIONS REMAIN A RISK
Not all American youth soccer teams will be required to adhere to the new rules, however all of US Soccer’s Youth National Teams as well as students at the US Soccer Development Academy will be limited in heading the soccer ball. Ultimately, US Soccer would like to see the new heading protocols implemented in all youth soccer clubs and teams around the country.
Other organizations are also working to promote soccer safety. The CDC created the HEADS UP initiative to educate coaches, parents, players, and referees on concussion risks and how to respond after a suspected concussion.
Safer Soccer is another program trying to lower the number of concussions associated with the sport by campaigning to set the minimum heading age at 14 for all youth soccer teams. Other countries like the United Kingdom have also realized the dangers of concussions and are implementing new rules to limit injuries and offer immediate evaluation and treatment for concussed players.
SOCCER CONCUSSION INJURIES RESULT WHEN WINNING TRUMPS YOUTH SAFETY
No sport will ever be completely risk free. However, it is the responsibility of the schools or team administrations and the coaching staff to promote as safe of play as possible for their athletes and their teams. When an organization is more focused on winning than on safety, it does a major disservice to its players and their parents.
If your child was injured playing soccer because of a lack of safety regulations or adherence to existing regulations, or if their possible concussion injuries were downplayed and he/she was returned to play because of a close game, you need the legal services of attorney Chris Faiella.
Concussions can jeopardize your child’s education, career, and even their life. Don’t risk it. Contact Chris today for all your legal questions and concerns about your options with Missouri or Kansas sports injuries.