Safety in Soccer
To help your child avoid injury while playing soccer, follow these safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and other sports health organizations. (Note: Adults should heed this safety guidance, too.)
- Before your child starts a training program or enters a competition, take him or her to the doctor for a physical exam. The doctor can help access any special injury risks your child may have.
- Make sure your child wears all the required safety gear every time he or she plays and practices. Your child should wear shin guards during every game and every practice. Shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles are recommended. Insist that your child warm up and stretch before playing.
- Don't allow your child to shoot goals before warming up.
- Teach your child not to play through pain. If your child gets injured, see your doctor. Follow all the doctor's orders for recovery, and get the doctor's OK before your child returns to play. Make sure first aid is available at all games and practices. Insist that your child follow and that coaches, and referees enforce all the rules of the game. For example, most leagues prohibit sliding tackles from behind, which can result in serious injury to players.
- Talk to and watch your child's coach. Coaches should enforce all the rules of the game, encourage safe play, and understand the special injury risks that young players face.
- Ask your child's doctor and coach whether it's safe for your child to "head" the ball and, if so, make sure your child knows how to head the ball correctly to avoid head and neck injury Don't let your child climb on the goal posts or hang or swing from the crossbar.
Above all, keep soccer fun. Putting too much focus on winning can make your child push too hard and risk injury.
- Make sure the field and equipment are safe. Work with coaches, city officials, and other parents to improve safety.