U.S. Soccer Federation Sets New Header Rules For Ages 13 & Under

Reducing exposure to head injuries in the youngest players

New safety regulations were announced by the United States Soccer Federation in an effort to reduce the number of head injuries. These include the specific policy that restricts players under age 10 from heading the ball and reducing headers during practice for players aged 11 to 13.

Establishment of the new guidelines resolves a class-action lawsuit filed against FIFA, U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization alleging negligence in treating and monitoring head injuries. Plaintiffs sought no financial compensation, only changes to the rules.

The guidelines are mandatory for all national U.S. Soccer youth teams and academies, which includes Major League Soccer youth club teams. They will serve as recommendations for associations and program not overseen by U.S. Soccer.

Recommendations go beyond heading the ball

Modifications were also made to substitution rules in an attempt to protect players suspected of having suffered concussions. The current rules are for three substitutions per game, but don’t allow for temporary substitutions so players sustaining a head injury can be properly examined.

The new initiative also calls for increased education for parents, players, coaches and referees, as well uniformity in handling youth concussions. The intention of these educational efforts could will lead to a better understanding and acceptance of the heading rules for children.


Source: Ben Strauss, “U.S. Soccer Resolving Lawsuit Will Limit Headers.” nytimes.com. 09 Nov, 2015.