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Fairbanks Youth Soccer Association

Concussion Awareness and Player Safety

In the recent statement by U.S. Soccer, it was announced that they will be releasing a comprehensive player safety campaign in the coming months. The campaign was developed with the help of medical experts to provide coaches, players, parents and referees with information, guidance and additional educational materials to improve the management of injuries, including concussions.

The initiative will not only include information about head injuries, but also other important player safety topics such as heat-related illness and injury prevention.

CHANGES TO RULES ON SUBSTITUTIONS AND HEADING

The statement also provided information on specific initiatives that will be implemented soon, including modifications to substitution rules in relation to concussions. Players in U-11 programs and younger shall not engage in heading, either in practices or in games. Limited heading in practice for players U-12 and U-13 programs. More specifically, these players shall be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes of heading training per week, with no more than 15-20 headers per player, per week.

Clubs should be aware of circumstances in which individual consideration is needed. For example, a 10 year old playing at U-12 or older should not head the ball at all. And, an 11 or 12 year old playing at U-14 or older should abide by the heading restrictions in practice.

These are recommendations for youth members because some of the youth members joining in the initiative do not have direct authority at the local level to require the adaption of the rules. Although these are only recommendations, they are based on the advice of the U.S. Soccer medical committee, and therefore U.S. Soccer strongly urges that they be followed.

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. 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.