U.S. Soccer safety program details concussion protocols

The U.S. Soccer Federation introduced on Wednesday "Recognize to Recover," a health and safety program aimed to reduce injuries in players of all ages and promote safe play.

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."

2 comments about "U.S. Soccer safety program details concussion protocols".
  1. Richard Brown, December 3, 2015 at 4:46 p.m.

    This is an incomplete picture.

    Coaches should teach how to do headers properly?

    Where is the part about teaching the player how to protect the spacing they are going to head in?

    on league and non league games some kind of health care provider is not needed? Or did I read that wrong?

    So you go down after a head injury there ok to play in some cases? If the common symptoms of concussion injury show ok? Funny when I coached you go down with a head injury. We look for signs of concussion like was mentioned. If everything looked ok we still did not let you play.

    Then to play we needed a doctors note.

    I am not a lawyer, but I use lawyers. The language that I read seemed incomplete to me.

  2. Kory KREMER, December 4, 2015 at 11:36 a.m.

    On my sons and daughters teams there has been at least 12 concussions that resulted in multiple missed games in the past few years. But not a single concussion has come from a player going up and heading the ball. Every concussion has been the clearance that hits a player in the head, unintended contact. I agree that coaches need to be trained and protocols need to be made, but all the news this is generating is way overboard.

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