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Ten Ways To Reduce or Prevent Soccer Injuries

  • Anchor the goal posts. According to the CPSC, at least 29 fatalities and 49 major injuries during the period 1979 to 2004 have been linked to unanchored or portable soccer goals. The CPSC recommends that allhere movable soccer goals be anchored firmly in place at all times. For more information on anchoring goal posts, click
  • Reduce orofacial injuries by using mouth guards. As many as 30% of all soccer injuries are to the orofacial region, including tooth avulsions, tooth fractures, concussions, and oral lacerations. Many of such injuries could have been prevented had the player worn a mouth guard. Yet only about 7% of youth soccer players wear mouth guards all or most of the time, and few state interscholastic athletic associations mandate their use. Both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Dental Association recommend a sports mouth guard for soccer.
  • Take steps to reduce the risk of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. Two recent studies suggest that years of heading a soccer ball may result in the short term in weaker mental performance, including a decline in cognitive function, difficulty in verbal learning, planning, and maintaining attention; and reduced information processing speed. The long-term effects of heading, however, are less clear. The studies have led some groups, including the National Soccer Coaches Association of America to recommend that its members not stress heading drills among children 10 or younger. Players, coaches, parents, referees, and health professionals need to be educated about the injury potential from heading a soccer ball; rules on the distance of players from the ball on restarts (such as free and corner kicks) need to be strictly enforced; and balls should be of the size and weight appropriate for the players' age and be made of synthetic, nonabsorbent materials when games are played on wet fields (because leather balls, when wet, become heavy and water-logged, increasing the risk of injury).
  • Reducing overuse injuries by setting participation limits. Nearly half of all of the sports injuries children suffer each year are overuse injuries. There are a number of commonsense steps parents can take to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. First, before letting a child play on two or three soccer teams at the same time, consider that all the extra wear and tear on her body may lead to overuse injuries years later. Second, set limits. A child is far less likely to suffer an overuse injury if he takes off at least three months a year from sports, and practices and plays soccer no more than twelve hours per week.
  • Be prepared for medical emergencies. A properly stocked first-aid kit should be available at all soccer practices and games, youth sports coaches should receive training in first-aid and an emergency medical plan should be in place.