By a PA & NJ Sports and Head Injury Lawyer
Though soccer players cannot use their hands to pass or dribble the ball, they may use their heads to pass the soccer ball or head it into the net. However, earlier this week, the United States Soccer Federation instituted polices that will ban heading the ball for players 10 and younger to address head injuries in the sport. In addition, the policies also require players from age 11 to 13 to reduce heading the ball during practices.
The new regulations will be mandatory for U.S. Soccer youth national teams and academies, but they will be only recommendations for other soccer associations and development programs that are not under U.S. Soccer control.
The new regulations were passed due to a class-action lawsuit brought by a group of parents and players last year that sought rule changes to prevent head injuries. The lawsuit alleged that in 2010, more high school soccer players suffered concussions (50,000) than athletes in wrestling, baseball, basketball and softball combined.
Many young children who head soccer balls do not know the proper techniques of heading a soccer ball. Many head a soccer ball with their eyes shut and shoulders scrunched, while others head the ball purely by accident.
Research has shown that children’s neck muscles aren’t strong enough to prevent their heads from absorbing the shock of the ball. Heads of children are much wobblier and bigger in proportion to their bodies, making it more likely that the brain will shake inside the skull upon impact and increase the risk of brain trauma.
A 2007 study done at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA showed that girls may be at greater risk than boys because their heads are smaller and their neck muscles are weaker. The same hit to the head with a soccer ball may result in a concussion for a girl and not a boy.
Daniel J. O’Brien is an experienced PA and NJ sports injury lawyer who has helped athletes suffering from traumatic brain and head injuries after sports accidents. If you would like to discuss a sports injury case, call Mr. O’Brien to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396