Chances are, if you have watched more than a few youth soccer games, you have seen a player injured in a collision with the goalpost. In fact, goalies suffer a disproportionate number of injuries compared to those playing other positions. The American Journal of Sports Medicine reported in 1995 that, even though goalies comprise only six percent of soccer players, they suffer nineteen percent of all soccer injuries. When a player collides with the post of a heavy, stationary goal post, the player absorbs all of the impact of the collision.
Could padding the goal post reduce the risk of such serious injury? After testing padded goal posts in both the laboratory and the field, the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that padded posts do indeed reduce significantly the number and severity of injuries, and are especially effective in reducing injuries to the head. Impact laboratory testing has shown that the force of impact is reduced between thirty-one and sixty-three percent by protective goal post padding.
Dr. David Janda, an orthopedic surgeon and director of the Institute For Preventative Sports Medicine in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has developed a goal post padding system thin enough not to interfere with the game but substantial enough to reduce the force of impact, on average, up to 63%. The pads are one half inch thick and are made of vinyl-skinned synthetic foam, fastened by Velcro straps. Four soccer fields in Ann Arbor and Saline, Michigan were equipped with the padded posts and monitored for two years. Over the course of 471 matches, there were seven major collisions between a goalie and the post, but no injuries!
Editor's Note (January 29, 2010): A clinical report by an expert panel of the American Academy of Pediatrics reviewing the literature in the February 2010 journal Pediatrics concluded that "evidence of efficacy of pads in preventing injury is lacking."