As we prepare for the upcoming Washington Youth Soccer season, we must revisit the necessary basic soccer safety precautions that ensure all our players have the best experience possible. When it comes to youth soccer, each adult who is involved has a responsibility to keep their young players as safe as possible. Below are some key safety points on equipment, injuries, concussion and more to help you and your players have a safe season!
Correct, Safe Soccer Equipment
- Every player should wear shin guards that cover the leg from below the knee to just above the foot
- Soccer socks should be worn up to the knee and over the shin guards
- Don't wear cleats with metal studs; molded cleats are softer and therefore less likely to cause an injury
Preventing and Treating Injuries:
- Injuries can be prevented
- Overuse injuries that are addressed and treated early are less likely to turn into chronic injuries
- All injuries cause pain and limited motion and function in the injured area
- If an injury lasts longer than one week, it can lead to other weaknesses and injuries, turning into a more complex problem
- Icing an injured or painful area immediately after it occurs and for the next several days decreases inflammation and can prevent some injuries from causing problems in future with sports participation
- Heat is not as beneficial because it can increase swelling
TIP: When injured, sit out and recover.
Injury Prevention Techniques:
- Seek medical care for pain or injury early in its development
- Use proper-fitting and working equipment
- Stop the exercise if there is pain
- Ice the area for 10 to 15 minutes (not directly on the skin)
All parents and coaches who become focused on winning, beware that you can place your players in harm's way. By being too overzealous and extreme in your expectations, you can increase the chances of injuring your players.
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Concussion
State laws passed in 2009 require all parents and coaches to know the signs and symptoms of concussion. These may include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
Some symptoms of concussions are not apparent until hours or days later. They include:
- Memory or concentration problems
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
Remember, if your child shows any of the symptoms above, it is important that they see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent any further injury to the brain. For more information on brain injury, visit the Brain Injury of Washington Association online at biawa.org.
Correct ball size:
Check with your coach or club to insure you are playing with the correct, age-appropriate-sized balls. Do not concentrate on teaching heading with young players aged 5-12 (Zone 1). For further information, contact Washington Youth Soccer. Read More about the player age Zones in Washington Youth Soccer's Long Term Player Development Plan.
Movable Soccer Goals Can Be Dangerous:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is aware of 23 deaths since 1979 from soccer goals that tipped over and crushed children who climbed on them or hung from the cross bars.
Most of the goals that caused injury were "homemade" by school shop classes, custodians, or local welders. They can be heavy and unstable.
- Instruct kids never to climb on the net or the frame of the soccer goal
- Use extreme caution when moving the goals
- To prevent goals from falling over during use, they should be anchored to the ground
- Check all connecting hardware before each use and replace damaged or missing fasteners immediately
- When goals are not in use, anchor or chain goals to fence posts, dugouts or other permanent structures
- For storage in the off-season, take the goals completely apart
- Use the goals only on flat fields
*Reference familyeducation.com For further information on all the above please contact Washington Youth Soccer.
Coaches should always:
- Check playing areas regularly to make sure conditions are safe. Check for holes, glass or dangerous objects
- Insist that children wear appropriate safety gear
- Have kids bring water bottles to practices and games and make sure they take breaks to avoid dehydration
- Require kids to warm up their muscles before play and stress to them the importance of staying in peak physical condition
- Ensure that all participants know the rules — and play by them
- Create a safe environment for your players