Soccer is the most popular team sport played around the world. It’s no wonder that a young soccer player is in awe of a pro athlete that can bounce a header to score the winning goal. But as glamorous and as effortless as pro soccer may seem, it’s important to take necessary precautions to protect younger players from head injuries – taking into account that concussions make up 2% to 3% of all injuries in the sport.
Head Trauma Risks in Soccer
Some experts have gone so far as to call concussions a growing crisis in youth soccer.
When necessary precautions aren’t taken, young soccer players with promise for future success may be debilitated completely after suffering a concussion in a game. One young player named Allison Kasacavage experienced a minimum of five concussions while playing her beloved sport. Today, she suffers through the rehabilitation process, where she can only attend school for four hours a day.
Even when playing on an organized team, children are at risk for head trauma if coaches don’t monitor appropriately. Compared to other sports like baseball, basketball, and softball, soccer carries a much greater risk of head injury.
This major risk for head trauma comes from heading the ball. If several players jump to head a ball at the same time, a collision could occur to cause a dangerous concussion. For this reason, most experts recommend discouraging heading in soccer games until children are at least 14, where their brains have further developed to resist damage.
Parents and coaches can also take precautions to prevent concussions on the field by.
Recognize the Symptoms of a Concussion Immediately
The causes and symptoms of a concussion on the field can vary greatly, which is why it’s important for parents and coaches to stay vigilant at all times. Many parents are surprised to find that concussions can easily occur without losing consciousness. This means that if a young player takes a bad spill or crashes into another player on the field, they could still be at risk for an undetected concussion.
Another important point to remember is that players that have already had a concussion have an even greater risk for another concussion. Young children and teens are more likely to get concussions than adults; it will also take longer for them to recover from the head trauma.
Parents and coaches can stay on their toes by listening to young players and watching for signs like:
A player with a concussion may also describe a headache or pressure in their head. They may experience nausea, double vision, light sensitivity, or difficulty concentrating. Since concussions affect people in different ways, it’s important to contact a medical professional at the first sign of a problem to keep your young soccer player safe!