Everything You Need to Know About Changes in Rules to the Header
Everything to Know About Changes in Rules to the Soccer Header
Wondering about the changes in the rules to the soccer header? If you're confused, keep reading. We've got everything you need to know about the change in rules!
Keyword(s): Soccer header
"Nearly 50,000 high school soccer players sustained concussions in 2010."
This statement was included in evidence presented during litigation against the United States Soccer Federation. The case has now resulted in sweeping changes to the rules surrounding the soccer header.
If you are a soccer player, or are a parent of a player, coach or referee you need to understand the changes. We've mapped them out for you here.
Why Change the Rules on the Soccer Header?
The United States Soccer Federation, FIFA, and the American Youth Soccer Organization were charged with negligence for not dealing with the problem of concussions in youth soccer. The parents and players brought a class-action in the U.S. District Court in California.
The case has now been dropped following the major changes made to the rules on heading the ball for children.
The high number of concussions seems to have been the main motivation behind the alterations. There were more concussions in football than in baseball, softball, wrestling, and basketball put together.
Evidence of the connection between soccer and brain injuries is continuing to build. A 2016 review of the scientific literature suggests that younger players may be at greater risk as they have weaker necks and a less-developed technique.
Some high-profile cases such as that of Taylor Twellman have also raised concerns. Twellman is one of the MLS all-time top goal scorers. But his untreated concussion injuries ended his career.
What are the Changes to the Rules?
The changes to the soccer header rules cover more than just heading. They are as follows.
There are also instructions to referees about how to apply the rules during the game. If a player heads the ball deliberately during the game they will award an indirect free kick.
The free kick will be taken at the point where the offense took place except when within the goal area. If inside the goal area the indirect free kick will be taken on the goal area line at the nearest point to where the offense took place.
Players who are suspected of having a head injury should be substituted right away for a check-up. This doesn't count towards the team's substitution allowance.
What Else Is Changing?
In addition to the rule changes on heading, there are wider changes taking place concerning player safety. The aim is to improve safety around concussion whether it occurs as a result of heading the ball or some other incident. The "Recognize To Recover" guidelines from United States Soccer is a significant safety education program on head and brain conditions.
The education is not just for soccer administrators. It's aimed at players, parents, coaches, and referees too. The program recognizes that all the stakeholders in the game of soccer have a contribution to make to player safety.
How Do Players Prevent Injury?
Injuries are less likely to occur if players have good technique and avoid dangerous play. Sportsmanship and respect for each other are also key values for players to hold. They improve safety in the game and in training.
Everybody should recognize when a player is injured. They should receive treatment and be removed from the game or training. Referees control the game and will let people know that a player is injured and have them removed from the game.
Players themselves should be aware of the risks and be able to look after their own safety. They need to recognize when they are injured and that they should be treated or leave the field of play. They need to listen to the referee, follow their instructions and also follow the rules of the game.
Players can protect themselves and others from injury and the long-term effects of a concussion. They should tell a parent or coach if they feel unwell. They should also do the same if they think a teammate has a concussion.
Head Injuries Are Serious
A concussion can happen as a result of heading the ball hard. It can also happen as a result of colliding with another player, the goal or even falling to the ground.
It's not just soccer header concussions that are the problem. Injuries may occur even if there has been no hit to the head. A collision with the body can also cause a concussion. The player does not need to have been knocked out to suffer a serious head injury.
Because head injuries are potentially serious players need to be open and honest about any injury. Enthusiasm for the game can sometimes lead to misplaced team loyalty and over-commitment. The long-term well-being of players is more important than any result.
What Are the Symptoms of Concussion?
The symptoms of a concussion vary from individual to individual. They may include a headache, pressure in the head, confusion, dizziness, or just not feeling right. These symptoms may not be noticed for some hours after the incident.
Don't try to play through an injury. Playing or training while suffering a concussion is dangerous. It can lead to other injuries, longer recovery time and delay getting back to playing.
What Can Parents Do?
As a parent, you should support the rules on soccer headers and the safety guidelines. You can be a role model for players. You should show respect for referees, coaches, other soccer players and other parents.
You should let the coach know about any injuries including a concussion from playing soccer or any other sport. Talk to your coach about concussion and be sure that they know what to do in the case of a suspected concussion. Check that they are committed to player safety over the game's result.
As a parent, you are well placed to recognize the symptoms of a concussion. Does your child seem confused? Have they had a change in attitude or performance?
Don't allow them to return to the game unless they have been checked by someone who is qualified to check for the symptoms of concussion and has passed them fit to continue.
What Can Coaches Do?
As a coach, you must prioritize safety as well as making soccer fun. Teaching good technique, sportsmanship and the importance of following the rules should be part of your role. These things prevent injuries.
As a role model and leader, you set expectations for players and parents too. Demonstrate that you respect referees, other players, and coaches. Make safety a priority and others will too.
Talk about the dangers of a concussion including the long-term implications. Never pressure an injured player to play. Stop other players or parents from doing so too.
Check with your club and league about concussion policy. Think long term. Consider the after-football life of the player and not just the result of a game. And before a game, introduce any healthcare professionals to the referee.
Identify when players are hurt and need some assistance. Look for the signs of a concussion after a soccer header. These include confusion, memory loss, change in attitude or performance. Remove the player from play if you suspect they have suffered a concussion.
Get the player checked by a healthcare professional. Don't judge how serious yourself. Don't put them back in the game unless cleared by a healthcare professional.
Want to Learn More About Soccer?
Soccer has its risks but it's also a great fun sport.
Improved safety for children with changes in rules over the soccer header can only help it flourish. Which is great, as the sport has loads of health benefits for players.