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US Soccer Concussion Initiative Guidelines
US Soccer Concussion Fact Sheet
US Soccer Concussion Fact Sheet for Players
US Soccer Concussion Fact Sheet for Coaches
US Soccer Concussion Fact Sheet for Parents
US Soccer Recognize to Recover Home Page
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Heads Up to Youth Sports
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US SOCCER CONCUSSION POLICY
On September 23, 2016, the California Governor signed AB-2007 (“New Law”) which expanded to any youth sports organization a current law on concussion protocols that had previously applied only to high school athletic programs. The New Law, which went into effect January 1, 2017, outlines several steps that athletic programs need to take with regards to head injuries and concussion protocol for the players in its athletic programs. Any youth sports organization in the State of California that elects to offer an athletic program in one of the sports listed in the New Law shall comply with all of the following:
- An athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or other head injury in an athletic activity shall be immediately removed from the athletic activity for the remainder of the day, and shall not be permitted to return to any athletic activity until he or she is evaluated by a licensed health care provider. The athlete shall not be permitted to return to athletic activity until he or she receives written clearance to return to athletic activity from a licensed health care provider. If the licensed health care provider determines that the athlete sustained a concussion or other head injury, the athlete shall also complete a graduated return-to-play protocol of no less than seven days in duration under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.
- If an athlete who is 17 years of age or younger has been removed from athletic activity due to a suspected concussion, the youth sports organization shall notify a parent or guardian of that athlete of the time and date of the injury, the symptoms observed, and any treatment provided to that athlete for the injury.
- On a yearly basis, the youth sports organization shall give a concussion and head injury information sheet to each athlete. The information sheet shall be signed and returned by the athlete and, if the athlete is 17 years of age or younger, shall also be signed by the athlete’s parent or guardian, before the athlete initiates practice or competition. The information sheet may be sent and returned through an electronic medium including, but not necessarily limited to, fax or electronic mail. At a minimum these materials shall include:
- Head injuries and their potential consequences
- The signs and symptoms of a concussion
- Best practices for removal of an athlete from an athletic activity after a suspected concussion
- Steps for returning an athlete to school and athletic activity after a concussion
- On a yearly basis, the youth sports organization shall offer concussion and head injury education, or related educational materials, or both, to each coach and administrator of the youth sports organization.
- Each coach and administrator shall be required to successfully complete the concussion and head injury education offered pursuant to paragraph (4) at least once, either online or in person, before supervising an athlete in an activity of the youth sports organization.
- The youth sports organization shall identify both of the following:
- Procedures to ensure compliance with the requirements for providing concussion and head injury education and a concussion and head injury information sheet, as contained in paragraphs (3) to (5), inclusive.
- Procedures to ensure compliance with the athlete removal provisions and the return-to-play protocol required pursuant to paragraph (1).
U11 HEADING RULE
To ensure that NorCal Premier is in line with the latest recommendation, we will be implementing a no heading rule for all U11 (2005 birth year this spring) and younger players. NorCal Premier will also recommend that all clubs follow the US Soccer guidelines on heading in younger age groups.
For all players 10 and younger there should be no heading in training or games. For players 11-13 years of age heading training should be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers per player, per week.
Heading Game Rule:
When a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area (6 yard box), the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If a player does not deliberately head the ball, then play should continue.
NO RE-ENTRY RULE
In accordance with the US Soccer return to play guidelines, any player removed from the field for a suspected head injury will not be allowed to return to the field of play unless cleared by a Healthcare Professional. In practice this will mean that any player for whom a coach is called onto the field will have to leave the field and will not be allowed to return unless they are evaluated and cleared by a Certified Healthcare Professional.
Health Care Professionals:
US Soccer defines a Healthcare Professional as “a licensed health care professional such as an athletic trainer certified (ATC), or a physician (MD/DO), with a skill set in emergency care and sports medicine injuries and with knowledge and experience related to concussion evaluation and management.” It will be up to each club to decide whether they will provide a health care professional at their matches, and to ensure that their health care professional has the correct certifications to be evaluating players for head trauma. If a club plans to use a health care professional to evaluate suspected head injuries during a NorCal match, the health care professional must be presented to the referee prior to the start of the match.
*Referees will not allow the re-entry of players removed from the field of play for suspected head injuries unless they are informed of the presence of, and meet with a healthcare professional prior to the start of the match.
NPL SUBSTITUTION CHANGE RULE
NorCal Premier will amend the substitution rules in the National Premier League to mirror the change in rules in the USDA.
A substitution to remove a player suspected to have a head injury shall not count against the re-entry rules in the NPL. Thus the player entering the game for the injured player may enter without it counting towards his/her re-entry count, and the player that has been removed may re-enter the game (if cleared by a healthcare professional) for the original substitute.