U.S. Soccer, the governing body for soccer in the U.S., recently recommended limitations on heading of the ball by young players.
The organization said that players age 10 and under should not head the ball at all, while players ages 11 to 13 should only head the ball during practice. It will be enforcing those directives among its Youth National Teams and its Development Academy.
MossRehab traumatic brain injury and concussion expert, Thomas Watanabe, MD, supported the decision.
"I believe that it is prudent to take a cautious approach regarding heading in soccer," Dr. Watanabe said. "Although heading is not the only cause of concussions in soccer, a firmly struck soccer ball can easily generate enough force to cause a concussion. Also, players that are competing to head a ball may also sustain head-to-head or other blows to the head, leading to brain injuries."
Watanabe agreed that this is the right approach as more information is gathered.
"Since we don't have enough information yet to determine if and when it is safe to start heading, restricting heading in youth soccer is an appropriate decision, and making this a rule takes the decision away from both youth soccer players and their coaches," he said.
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