Preventing Soccer Injuries
Soccer has become one of the most popular sports for children. While soccer is fairly safe when compared to injury rates for other sports, injuries requiring medical treatment occur each year. However, if parents and coaches make sure the player is properly prepared, the field is safe and the playing environment is healthy, your child’s chances of injury will be much lower.
Make sure your soccer player:
- Wears recommended gears:
- Mouth guards – Important particularly for goalies (Soccer is the second leading cause of orofacial and dental injuries in sports.)
- Protective eyewear - Glasses or goggles should be made with polycarbonate or a similar material, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- Shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles - Many shoes are made with no arch support; so if your child has heel or foot pain, try using a heel pad or cup or arch support insert.
- Takes time to warm up. In soccer, flexibility is as important as strength. A minimum of 10 minutes of running will get blood flowing. Gentle stretching, particularly leg muscles, will reduce the chance of muscle pulls.
- Stays hydrated. Make sure your child has plenty of water available to her during practice and games; encourage her to drink frequently.
- Keep the field in good condition. Parents, kids or coaches should walk the field before each practice and game and remove stray trash or glass that has found its way onto the field. Kids can do this as a team during warm-ups. Fill in holes to prevent trips and falls.
- Soccer goals should be well-padded to prevent collision injuries, and well-secured. Don’t allow kids to hang on or climb on the net or goal post. Injuries and deaths have occurred when goals have fallen onto players.
- Don’t let them use their heads. Discourage children from heading the ball. According to the AAP, excessive heading drills should be discouraged until more is known about the effects on the brain.
- Use only synthetic balls on wet playing fields. Leather balls can soak up water and become heavy, increasing injury risk.
- Be ready. The coach or a parent volunteer should always have ice packs and a well-stocked first aid kit available at each practice and game.
- Enforce the rules. Coaches, parents and soccer organizations should enforce safety rules and encourage good sportsmanship and fair play.
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: April 2011