In this post, we are going to discuss how to prevent soccer injuries. As parents, we are always a bit concerned when our kids are on the field. I do not blame you because soccer has a higher injury rate compared to other contact sports, especially with young players.
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Prevention is better than cure
Having said that, most soccer injuries are avoidable if we take all prevention measures. They say prevention is better than cure and that sums it up well.
Prevention of injury is purely common sense if something does not feel right or not secured we can immediately address it on the spot.
Soccer injury statistics
Injuries do happen in all sports and soccer is not an exception.
Here are some statistics on soccer injuries related to young players:
- Girls are prone to ACL injuries – this is an injury to the knees
- Boys are more prone to ankle injuries than girls
- Most injuries occur around the leg area – mostly sprains, strains, and contusions
- Upper body injuries accounted for 3% – 12% of total injuries including shoulder, head, and face.
- Collisions with other players account for most injuries
I have listed below prevention measures parents, players, and coaches can apply.
1. Do not ignore warm-up, stretching, & cool down
In my post on warm-up drills, I mentioned my hamstring injury was due to a lack of warm-up. These kinds of injuries can be nasty and may cost you expensive medical treatments and days without school.
When you warm up and do your stretches properly, injuries such as torn hamstring and torn ligaments can be avoided. It warms the cold muscles, in a way, it is preparing the muscles and entire body system for the intensive training ahead.
Warming up also mentally prepares the player for the training. After the training, a good warm-down is equally important.
It slowly normalizes the tensions in the muscles, joints, blood pressure, heart rate, lung, and the mental stress of the game. It also reduces muscle soreness after the game.
2. Wear personal protective gear
Your kid’s soccer equipment can either protect him or cause injuries. Here is why it will do more harm than good. Ill-fitting and substandard soccer cleats can cause blisters to the feet and hurt the soles, heels, ankles, and knees.
When playing with a bad cleat the kid can feel the studs pushing up underneath his feet because they lack proper heel/arch support. A good shin guard should protect your kid’s shin during tackle and collision. It should absorb the force significantly by reducing the impact.
However, a bad shin guard can split or break under pressure which results in injury such as a fracture.
A goalkeeper should also wear knee pads to protect his knees from grazes. Furthermore to protect him from the incoming players.
That’s because they spend time improving their products.
3. Protect your face and teeth
Children are encouraged to protect their faces, especially those with a history of eye surgery or with only one functioning eye.
Although this is not compulsory a concerned parent should get one for their kid anyway. A good mouthguard should protect your teeth from chipping, cracking, or even injuring other players.
Dental repair can cost a lot of money. Some kids may complain because it’s difficult to talk while wearing a mouthguard. But that is a small price to pay.
Girls are encouraged to tie their hair in a bun to avoid getting caught in with another player and to reduce the transmission of bugs like head lice!
4. Limit playing times and rest more
Some kids play soccer almost year-round and have less time to rest. They will participate in the school soccer team then off to a soccer camp and maybe join specialized soccer training.
When all these add up, the kid rarely has enough time to rest. As we know rest is an important aspect of a kid’s development.
This is when muscles, joints, ligaments, hearts, and lungs take a break from training and repair and recover.
If there are not enough rest injuries will soon follow therefore, it is recommended that a total of 3 months of rest should be taken per year.
And no more than 12 hours per week.
5. The goal post is a hazard!
The goalposts can cause serious injury to a player such as a concussion to the head. The players, especially the goalkeeper can hurt themselves by accidentally hitting their heads on the posts.
Kids love to lean or climb the goalposts. This is where accidents can happen because the posts will tip over!
To avoid these injuries, the goalposts need to be padded from the ground up. This will absorb the impact and lessen the injuries. Also, the goalposts need to be secured to the ground to avoid them tipping over and causing injuries.
6. Watch out for Debris, holes, tools, and even dog poo on the field!
The condition of the outdoor soccer field can cause injury to the players if not properly checked and cleaned regularly. This means someone actually walks around the entire soccer field to do physical checks.
Believe me, after a while, there will be all sorts of objects you can find in the field – even dog poo!
The main things to look out for are holes dug up by animals causing uneven playing surfaces, muddy puddles after the rain can be slippery, debris left behind after a storm, and even forgotten tools.
Maintenance machinery, tools, and chemicals should not be left around the field. All these are likely to cause injury to the players but can be avoided if the groundsman does his job properly.
7. My game is fair play
“My Game Is Fair Play” is the slogan of FIFA, the world governing body of soccer. It is a message that they always promoted in any of their events around the world.
It promotes sportsmanship, fair play, and respect without discrimination against other players. Aggressive and violent behaviors contributed to about 11% of concussions, head, and facial injuries on the soccer field.
It is the responsibility of the game officials and coach to uphold the rules of the game and apply zero tolerance to such behavior on the field. Kids must be trained to respect other players and how to play safely on the field.
As a parent, you have a moral duty to encourage your kid to display fair play and respect for others at all times during training.
So that wraps up our soccer injury prevention discussion.
Always remember to observe the following advice:
- Always warm-up, stretch and warm down before and after training
- Always wear proper protective equipment
- Always protect your face and teeth
- Always rest a total of 3 months per year
- Always pad and secure the goalpost
- Always clear the soccer field of debris
- Always uphold the fair play rule.
Do you have any comments or questions about this post? Please leave a comment below.