U.S. Soccer recommends ban on headers for youth players

November 10, 2015 / Soccer
U.S. Soccer announced Monday its recommendation to ban headers for the sport’s youth players in an effort to minimize the risks of concussions.

Photo: Kevin Hoffman
Photo: Kevin Hoffman

The announcement came the same day that the federation, along with a handful of other soccer leagues, reached a resolution in a lawsuit over concussions in the sport. The new initiative would eliminate headers for children 10 and under and limit heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13, according to a statement from U.S. Soccer.

The organization made it clear that the rules were only recommendations for U.S. Soccer’s youth members. For its youth national teams and the Development Academy, they are requirements.

From the statement:

The United States Soccer Federation and the other youth member defendants, with input from counsel for the plaintiffs, have developed a sweeping youth soccer initiative designed to (a) improve concussion awareness and education among youth coaches, referees, parents and players; (b) implement more uniform concussion management and return-to-play protocols for youth players suspected of having suffered a concussion; (c) modify the substitution rules to insure such rules do not serve as an impediment to the evaluation of players who may have suffered a concussion during games; and (d) eliminate heading for children 10 and under and limit heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13.

The complete details of the initiative along with a more comprehensive player safety campaign will be announced by U.S. Soccer in the next 30 days.

U.S. Soccer insisted the upcoming player safety campaign was in the works long before the lawsuit against the organization. The initiative was developed with the help of medical experts to give coaches, players, parents and referees more information on injury management. The organization also plans to modify substitution rules, according to its statement.

“U.S. Soccer has implemented these rules as requirements for players that are part of U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams and the Development Academy,” the statement said. “It should be noted that Youth National Teams will continue to be bound by the substitution rules of the events in which they participate.

“Protecting the health and safety of athletes and preventing injuries is critically important to U.S. Soccer. U.S. Soccer has taken a lead in education, research and proposing rule changes to improve player safety for several years, and is looking forward to continuing in that leadership position with the release of the player safety campaign.”


Click here to read the complete news release.

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