Tag Archives: heading

US Youth Soccer and US Club Reach Concussion Settlement – Heading Restricted

I can hear it now … blame the lawyers.  Well, I am one and I applaud the efforts made to affect change.  I have posted many articles and links on this blog regarding the issue of repetitive heading for young players.  You all want to know how lawyers effect change … here you go.

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And here is the link.

Joint Press Statement

Basically…no heading for 10 and under and restricted heading for 11-13.  Love it.

Heading and Brain Damage in News Again

If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you will note that I repost or link to articles discussing the issue with heading in youth soccer.  Many “head trauma” articles as they relate to soccer focus on head-to-head trauma, head-to-ground, or head-to-post.  My experience has taught me heading the ball, particularly punted balls and long kicks, can be painful and damaging.

It all started in my third year of coaching.  I was coaching a U10 boys game in an Academy league that was really nothing more than recreation soccer with more emphasis on results (not a true academy experience — that is another topic).  So, we were playing the best team.  They relied on speed and punted balls to threaten.  Their keeper, likely selected for his punting prowess, punts a ball that is going to cross midfield.  One of our defenders, the biggest, strongest boy on the team, heads the ball.  He immediately gets dizzy, has to come out, and gets sick later.  That experience has shaped my perspective on this topic for years.

While I feel it important to teach proper heading, I discourage heading of punted balls or long balls (or balls at great speeds).  I coach mainly boys who play in the most competitive league in Houston so it can be tough.  But, I recommend this article to all who follow.  While it focuses on girls, my experience is boys head the ball more (yes, their necks are stronger, but still).

And, thankfully, now my U10s play in a true academy league where there is no punting, must play out from the back, and emphasis on passing and dribbling.

Heading In News Again

I love this sport.  I spend a lot of my free time on soccer fields.  I sure hope that we are not too stubborn to consider safety precautions to minimize risk of injury in it.  Remember, the old schoolers complained when shin guards became mandatory.  The old, old schoolers complained when the game changed from kicking the dribbler in the shins (without guards) to proper tackling….just saying.

CTE & Soccer – New Stories Out

For those of you who read this blog, you know that I post as much information as I can find about the effects of repetitive heading and brain injuries in soccer players.  Yesterday, a story broke about a recently deceased soccer player confirmed with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).  He died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at age 29.  He played soccer all of his life and continued his play in college then in the Professional Development League (PDL).  Here are a couple of stories about it:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/soccer-player-diagnosed-cte-brings-sports-risks/story?id=22697477

http://www.cbssports.com/general/eye-on-sports/24457911/doctors-find-first-case-of-cte-in-deceased-former-soccer-player

http://www.medicaldaily.com/first-soccer-player-diagnosed-cte-headers-are-lone-physical-danger-non-violent-sport-270342

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2569927/Degenerative-brain-disease-time-semi-pro-soccer-player-died-age-29-ASL.html

The main point that is made is that soccer is a game where there is repeated trauma to the head.  The first article noted practice as the main culprit because of the repetition there.  Interestingly, in Italy, they had already concluded a study stating soccer players were more likely to develop ALS than populace in general.  (See first article).

New Study on Repetitive Heading and Brain Injury

I have blogged a couple of times in the past on the relationship between heading and brain injury. A new study has been published, the first of its kind, to study the effects of repetitive heading of a soccer ball on the brain and whether there is damage associated with such activity. Again, this study is not focused on traumatic head-to-head contact in a soccer match or even head to post contact or head to ground (most other studies of soccer head injuries were associated with those triggers). The study in this case was based on repetitive heading of the ball, particularly in training sessions as most of the repetitions occur there.  Here are links to different summaries of the study:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/11/repetitive-soccer-ball-heading-could-lead-to-brain-injury/

http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20130611/heading-soccer-balls-tied-to-damaging-brain-changes

The material for the article was pulled from the June 2013 Journal Radiology.  Here is the link to its website:  http://radiology.rsna.org/content/current

Prior blog submissions are here:

http://soccerthought.com/frequent-repetitive-headers-and-brain-injury/

http://soccerthought.com/concussion-risk-in-soccer/

There are options for protective gear.  The study was of amateur adults players around 30 years old.  I would imagine the risk would be greater with youth prior to the time their skulls are finished forming/growing (but I am not a doctor!).  I have purchased the protective headgear and will have my children start wearing them.  The Full90 pieces will be hot in the summer, but this is not something that I am willing to risk.