The program follows up on the heading and concussion guidelines for youth soccer that U.S. Soccer announced early last month.
"Recognize to Recover will lead to better awareness and understanding of player health and safety initiatives and strengthen the role parents, players, coaches and officials play in preventing, protecting and addressing injuries," said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas. "While U.S. Soccer is launching the framework of Recognize to Recover today, this is just the beginning as more information around specific areas of focus will be rolled out in the coming months."
The program includes guidelines on heat-related illness and dehydration, heart health, nutrition and injury prevention.
Regarding concussions and heading, for which U.S. Soccer has recommended a ban on for children 10 and under and a limit on heading at practice for children ages 11 to 13, Recognize to Recover offers Concussion Initiative Guidelines.
They will include a concussion overview video and concussion information/protocols that U.S. Soccer-licensed coaches and referees will be required to review annually. Parents and players will also be directed to the information:
“U.S. Soccer and each of the Implementing Members recommend and encourage all Organization Members to recommend, that parents and/or legal guardians of all youth players discuss the subject of concussions with their children-players and the need to be candid about any injury they may sustain.”
Also included in the Concussion Initiative Guidelines:
* Major youth tournaments (defined as tournaments played over multiple days with 64 or more teams) should have an adequate number of health care providers accessible to coaches, referees and athletes. (“Major youth tournament” does not include regular league play or non-league matches.)
* Detailed return-to-play protocol.
* Heading recommendations including, for U-12 and U-13, training be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes per week with no more that 15-20 headers per player, per week. All coaches should be instructed to teach and emphasize the importance of proper techniques for heading the ball.
"We know that the vast majority of concussions occur when there is contact between players trying to head the ball," said Chiampas. "Whether that is head-to-head contact, elbow-to-head or their head hitting the ground while challenging for the ball in the air; by reducing the number of those aerial challenges to head the ball, we believe we will decrease the incident of concussions."
"While the science on head injuries is still developing, these rule changes and recommendations are based on the advice of the U.S. Soccer medical committee. As we continue to learn more, we'll have the flexibility to adapt to the findings and make the appropriate changes."
Downloadable U.S. Soccer’s Concussion Initiative Guidelines
Heat Guidelines for download can be found HERE.
"As the national governing body of our sport, U.S. Soccer is committed to being the leader in lasting change that has a positive impact on the game," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "We created Recognize to Recover to elevate player health and safety and bring players, coaches, parents and officials together to help ensure safe play at all levels of our sport."