The game of soccer is not without its physical risks to the players. Such risks include improperly secured goal posts, heat exhaustion, and concussions. There are actions that coaches, managers and parents can take to minimize these risks. The information provided on this web site is designed to educate the adults responsible for the safety and welfare of youth players on how to prevent and identify these serious risks. At no time is this information being provided to substitute for seeking professional medical evaluation. Rather, it is hoped coaches and parents will be encouraged to seek prompt medical evaluation for such risks as heat exhaustion or concussions in young players.
Heat Exhaustion: While the temperature has been moderate so far, October can still produce very warm temperatures, and with youth players practicing year round these days, it is important that coaches and parents make sure players are properly hydrated. It may be surprising to know that U.S. Soccer Federation recommends that during an activity period each child or adolescent should consume after every 15 to 20 minutes 5 oz of fluid for children 90 lbs. or less and 9 oz. of fluid for youngsters more than 90 lbs.
Further, a young player should drink 12 – 16 oz. of fluid approximately 30 minutes before getting on the field and after the game drink water or sports drink every 15 – 20 minutes for the first hour. What not to drink are so-called energy drinks loaded with caffeine and sugar. For more information on heat exhaustion including how to recognize the symptoms down load the PowerPoint found below.
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Concussions:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 300,000 Americans suffer sports-related concussions annually. However, Gerard Gioia, chief of the Division of Pediatric Neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center, says the number of sports-related concussions may actually number more than 3 million a year. This injury can be very serious, and can be difficult to detect, as the injury is functional, rather than structural. Concussions are under reported as athletes do not believe injury is serious and often resist leaving a game or practice. However there are signs coaches can observe that indicate a concussion has occurred including player appears dazed, confused, unsure of game or opponent, answers questions slowly, or forgets events prior or after the injury. Symptoms reported by the athlete include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, feeling sluggish, and even change in sleep pattern. There are on field tests coaches can conduct. For more information, download the already mentioned Heat lllness and Concussion PowerPoint. Also go to the web site ImPACT for the latest research and news on concussions.
The Washington Times (4/08/09) provides additional information on head gear that helps reduce risk from concussions. ACL Prevention: In sports that both sexes play using similar rules -- soccer, basketball, volleyball -- researchers estimate that female athletes rupture their ACLs at rates as high as five to eight times as great as men. The reconstructive surgery after an ACL rupture is complicated, the rehabilitation painful and long, and those who suffer an injury are at high risk for developing arthritic knees.
While ACL damage can be caused by slamming into another player and buckling the knee, the causes of non-contact ACL injuries are not fully understood, nor are the reasons female athletes are so much more prone to them. Nevertheless, there are exercises female athletes can warm up with that reduce the risk from this horrible injury. The Washington Post published an excellent overview article on ACL Prevention on June 3, 2008.
The Post article features the ACL prevention work of Dr. Anthony Beutler with the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. Dr. Beutler spoke at the MSYSA 2008 Workshop and his PowerPoint presentation with more detailed prevention information is available for downloading now.
MSYSA welcomes other authoritative information resources on player safety. Please forward all suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Goal Post Safety: The May 2007 death of a young Virginia boy from a portable goal post that was not properly secured is heart-breaking proof that goals are very dangerous. In fact a Center for Disease Control analysis of 27 reported goal post injuries found that 18 were fatal, 23 involved males, mean age was 10 years old, and head traumas were the principle cause of death. Further, Anchored for Safety reports that there have been over 35 deaths and 52 injuries in the U.S. from falling soccer goals since the 1980’s. This does not have to be. No goals should be left on a field without being properly anchored.In addition to the risk that full size goals pose, there are also risks to smaller foldable soccer goals that are sold at sporting goods stores and often bought for a family’s backyard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall of several of these goals in September 2008. Clubs, schools and recreation agencies need to make sure all of their goals are properly secured when out on a field. There are several resources on securing goals properly and at Anchored for Safety.