U.S. Soccer Bans Soccer Heading At Age 10 And Below, Imposes Limits on Heading in Practice for 11- to 13-year-olds

In a stunning development in the debate over soccer heading, the United States Soccer Federation ("USSF") announced on November 9, 2015 a series of steps aimed at reducing the risk of head injuries in soccer and better managing them when they occur. As part of a settlement resolving a pending class-action lawsuit filed against USSF and others in 2014, the organization will now ban players age 10 and younger from heading the ball and limit heading in practice for those from age 11 through 13 in programs it directly controls, and recommend that youth soccer organizations not under it control follow such new rules.

Specifically, U.S. Soccer has now come out against heading in practices or games at the U11 level and younger, and that heading in training at the U12 and U13 be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers per player per week.


Heading In Soccer: The Debate Continues


A youth soccer safety campaign urging middle schools and under-14 soccer leagues to eliminate heading in the sport as a way of reducing concussions continues to grab headlines, but is viewed in a new study47 not only as culturally unacceptable in a sport that has been allowed to become more physical over time, but as a less effective way to prevent concussions than by reducing athlete-athlete contact across all phases of the game through better enforcement of existing rules, enhanced education of athletes on the rules of the game, and improved coaching.  


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