U.S. Soccer Bans Headers For Players Under 11
In response to a class action lawsuit brought against FIFA over the governing body’s handling of concussions, The United States Soccer Federation has announced the adoption of a new policy that bans players under the age of 11 from heading the ball.
The new policy also reduces the amount of headers allowed in practice sessions for players 11 to 13 years old.
These new rules only apply to teams playing under U.S. Soccer, including all youth national teams and Major League Soccer youth club teams. The new policy will only serve as a recommendation to other leagues.
As discussed in a previous Demosphere Blog article about concussions, research shows that girls’ soccer experiences the second highest incidence of concussions among young athletes – second only to football.
A study performed by JAMA Pediatrics found that only 4.7 percent of boys’ and 8.2 percent of girls’ concussions are caused by their direct contact with the soccer ball. However, over 30.6 percent of boys’ concussions and 25.3 percent of girls’ concussions took place after banging heads with another player or hitting the field.
Many fear that limiting the amount of headers until the age of 14 will lead to slower development compared to international competitors, but the US Soccer Federation and parents around the country are prioritizing the safety of the players with the introduction of this new policy.