The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced new rules eliminating heading for children 10 and younger as part of a new player safety campaign. The new regulations limit the amount of heading — a play using the player’s head and neck to direct a pass or shot on goal — in practice for children between 11 and 13. “The science on head injuries is still developing and U.S. Soccer will continue to obtain and discuss the latest information available with concussion experts in the future,” said federation spokesman Neil Buethe. “U.S. Soccer and its youth members will have the flexibility to adapt as more is learned about concussions to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of our athletes and preventing injuries.”
“We’ve heard a lot about pro-football players and concussions, but we’re hearing more about soccer players too – male and female,” Jain said. “When you take into account that you’re dealing with young brains, developing brains — and in soccer the most common cause of concussions is from heading the ball — it clearly makes sense that it’s not good for the brain at that age to head the ball and put someone at risk.”
In recent years since NFL concussions have been in the headlines, parents have been worrying about their children hitting their heads, he said. At the same time, he added, there’s been a 2 percent decline in participation in high school football. “They’ve done a lot in football in terms of changing the rules to limit head injuries,” he said. “As these concerns become more and more prevalent, and parents say they don’t want their kids to play (soccer) because of risks, there will be more pressure on these organizations to change the rules.” The safety initiative also will cover improved concussion awareness among officials, parents and players as well as new return-to-play rules, according to the federation. More information will be forthcoming in the next 30 to 60 days, not only about head injuries, but heat-related illness and injury prevention as well.