Do you coach your child's soccer team? Or are you a parent who is concerned about preventing common injuries? Soccer is an extremely popular youth sport, but because it requires constant movement and sometimes physical contact, soccer can lead to a wide variety of injuries. Sprains, ligament and tendon tears, and even concussions can all happen over the course of a soccer game. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent injury. Here are four tips to keep your team's kids safe this soccer season:
Emphasize proper conditioning. Soccer injuries can often happen at the beginning of the season as kids get used to the unique movements required in soccer. While playing soccer, your kids may make a lot of movements that they don't make in everyday activity. Those movements can put stress on their joints, muscles, and ligaments. At the beginning of the season, put your team through a couple of conditioning sessions to get their bodies in soccer shape. Emphasize jumping, pivots, and running with lots of starts and stops. That will help their bodies ease into the demands of soccer.
Examine field conditions before each match. Poor field conditions can be one of the biggest risks in soccer. Divots, uneven ground, thin turf, and even rocks and puddles can all lead to twisted ankles, sprained ligaments, and more. As a coach or concerned parent, you have the right to examine fields before play and request improvements with the proper officials. If you have a match on your home field, you should always take time to inspect the field and speak with the groundskeepers. If you have an away match, take a drive to the field a day or two ahead of time and look at the turf. If it needs work, don't hesitate to contact the other team's coach.
Limit heading. Concussions are among the most dangerous injuries a child can suffer. Multiple concussions may lead to long-term brain damage and brain swelling. You can limit the risk of concussion by teaching your kids to avoid heading the ball, if possible. If your kids are young, you may want to ban heading altogether. Heading can be dangerous for a couple of reasons. One is that repeated contact between the ball and head could lead to a head injury. But also, heading creates situations where two players may attempt to head the ball at the same time, leading to head collisions. Teach your kids other ways to attack the ball without using their heads.
For more information, talk to a doctor who deals with sports injuries like one from Adult & Pediatric Orthopedics SC. He or she can give you other tips to help you protect your team.