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Category Archives: Sport

Availability of Equipment and Adequate Supervision

These 2 external factors play a significant role in the safety of strength training for kids. If the equipment is not readily available, is not the right kind of equipment, or is in an unsupervised setting, participation in that location should be reconsidered.

Most gym equipment is made for adult-sized bodies, so it is too big for kids; the arm and leg lengths are too long, and the weight plates increase a large amount at a time. Fortunately, machines that are built in sizes for children do exist in some places, but are certainly not widespread.

In that case, free weights can often be used more safely and effectively because they are readily available and portable, can replicate many different sports-specific moves and positions, and can start out very small and only increase by a small amount of weight at a time. Of course, good, mature posture and balance control are absolutely necessary before starting to use free weights.

In addition, low-weight, higher-repetition exercises need to be done correctly. Proper form and technique must be strictly guided and supervised by a trained certified professional or coach who has knowledge about strength training for children. This is of enormous importance.

Supervision is not an older high school student who just passes through the gym every now and then during his free period. Supervision means a knowledgeable adult who has devoted time to help teach proper form and observe the child to prevent injury.

Because of the high risk of dangerous injury, lifting heavy weights with bad technique and bad supervision is only asking for disaster. Even when done properly with appropriate supervision, an injury can happen, but the many scientific studies investigating strength training in 8- to 11-year-olds show that injury rates have been virtually nonexistent when training is done correctly with strict supervision. Are you getting the picture here? The wordsupervision was used 5 times in just 1 paragraph. It must be important.

Physical Activity = Better Health

Pediatricians continue to be disturbed by the trends they’re seeing in the levels of physical activity of children, which appear to be headed in the wrong direction. One survey concluded that less than 25% of children in grades 4 through 12 participate in 20 minutes of vigorous activity or 30 minutes of any physical activity per day. Particularly with weight management as a goal, those numbers aren’t good enough.

Not only will regular physical activity help your child lose weight and maintain that weight loss, but it has many other benefits. For example, if your child exercises regularly, he’ll have

  • Stronger bones and joints
  • Greater muscle strength
  • A decrease in body fat
  • Improved flexibility
  • A healthier cardiovascular system (thus reducing his risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure)
  • A reduced likelihood of developing diabetes
  • More energy
  • A greater ability to handle stress
  • Improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Greater social acceptance by physically active peers
  • Opportunities to make new friends
  • Better concentration at school

Getting Started

You should have a clear picture of your child’s activity level—and whether he needs to change course. Is he watching too much TV? Is he spending too little time playing outdoors after school or on weekends?

As a parent, you need to help your overweight child get moving. To repeat, he should be doing some physical activity every day. In fact, it should become as routine a part of his life as brushing his teeth and sleeping.

So where should you begin? How much time does your child need to spend being active and how intense does this activity need to be?

The answers to these questions may be different for your child than it is for another boy or girl. If your overweight youngster has been completely sedentary, with no PE classes at school, no outdoor play, no extracurricular physical activities, and hours of TV watching every day, his starting point should be different than that of a fairly active youngster. There are plenty of activities that he can choose from, and he should begin to slowly and gradually pick up the pace.

Let’s say that your child decides to try getting his physical activity by taking walks or hikes with an older sibling through a nearby park. If he is really out of shape or if he has trouble imagining doing any walking at all, encourage him to set a goal of walking for only 1 minute at a time (“Can you walk for just 60 seconds?”). Once he realizes that 1 minute is an attainable target, have him increase his walking sessions progressively, to 2 minutes each time, then 3 minutes, and so on, until he’s walking for 30 minutes or more. If your youngster is already in better shape, he may want to start with a 15-minute walk and then increase it in 5-minute increments to 20 minutes, 25 minutes, and beyond. The ultimate goal is to have him spend an hour being active each day.

To most of us, a minute or two of walking doesn’t sound like much. In fact, many adolescents and adults think that exercise doesn’t really count unless it’s intense and even hurts (as the cliché goes, “No pain, no gain”). But for a child trying to lose weight, every little bit of activity helps, whether it’s a short walk to the school bus stop or a climb up a flight of stairs at school. Ultimately, once your child gets into better shape, you can encourage him to increase the duration and intensity of his activity, but the most important thing is that he just get moving and do it regularly.

Tips for Weight Training and Lifting

Somehow, something got lost in translation when muscles changed from being used for gathering food to being a way of life and look.

It is so standard to look a certain way that strength is not always an issue; simply how you appear seems most important. Young kids are exposed to the “beautiful people” so much that it is normal now for junior high and high school boys to pump weights and shave their body to get that magazine-model look. Until a decade ago, those rituals were reserved for those involved in bodybuilding and swimming (the price to pay for wearing a Speedo). But now, appearance is so paramount that kids want muscles—just because!

It is astonishing to know what is going on in our schools. The use of anabolic steroids is increasing to levels we don’t even know among junior high and high school students. Some are athletes succumbing to the pressure of doing anything to win. Some are not athletes at all, but use such dangerous drugs just to look good. Go figure. Who could imagine that young teens addicted to steroids would become the cover article of Newsweek? This is a terrible situation that is growing out of hand. The news frequently shows prominent sports figures and teams getting in trouble with steroid scandals. Youngsters rarely know the side effects and as usual, even if they do, they think the bad things will never happen to them.

Desiring muscles for more strength and power, athletic superiority, or even a ripped body is not necessarily abnormal. However, if the desired end result is one built from pressure to perform, a distortion of what a healthy body really is, or a disregard for personal safety, that is a problem. Some youth think muscles are the answer to everything, and they will go to dangerous lengths to develop them.

Other youth just see muscles all around them and think they should have them to avoid being different. Muscles are important, but they are not the end all and be all for participating in activities or sports. There is so much more that contributes to the complete package of improving sports skills and expertise. We have been discussing all of the different factors that develop over time to benefit ability. Strength is just one of them.

Let’s put the steroid craze and muscle mania aside and talk about strength training as it applies and contributes to your child’s various sporting endeavors and how development plays a part. So what about lifting weights? It may be easy to think that the sooner your child starts lifting weights, the quicker he will be able to run faster, jump higher, and throw farther. Well, think again. Maybe that is why none of the infant stores carry any beginner baby weight sets in pink and blue. When considering the question of when Johnny can start lifting weights, there are several issues that must be addressed.

Among the more important issues are

  • Age
  • Level of development
  • Reason for interest
  • Level of sports skill already achieved
  • Risk of injury
  • Availability of equipment and adequate supervision
  • Reality of gaining strength (and size)
  • How strength training works in a young body

Aerobic Training

Aerobic training strengthens the heart and lungs and improves muscle function. One goal of aerobic training is to enhance sports performance and to improve training response. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about aerobic training exercises.

What are aerobic training exercises?

Aerobic training exercises are any activities that raise heart rate and make breathing somewhat harder. The activity you are doing must be constant and continuous. Examples of aerobic activities are

  • Walking or hiking
  • Jogging or running
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • In-line skating
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Exercising on a stair-climber or elliptical machine

Other activities, when done in a constant and continuous way, can be aerobic, such as tennis, racquetball, squash, and the martial arts. Weight training, however, is not aerobic because it is done in short bursts of a few minutes at a time.

How does aerobic training improve endurance?

Aerobic training increases the rate at which oxygen inhaled is passed on from the lungs and heart to the bloodstream to be used by the muscles. Aerobically fit athletes can exercise longer and harder before feeling tired. During exercise they have a slower heart rate, slower breathing rate, less muscle fatigue, and more energy. After exercise, recovery happens more quickly. Aerobic fitness can be measured in a laboratory setting while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle. This is called maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max.

How often and how long should athletes train?

To achieve a training response, athletes should exercise 3 to 5 times per week for at least 20 to 60 minutes. Fitness level can be improved with as little as 10 minutes of exercise if done 2 to 3 times per day. If the goal is also to lose body fat, athletes should exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes. Athletes who are not fit will need to start with lesser amounts of exercise. They can slowly add more time as their endurance improves. Increasing the level of exercise at about 10% per week is a good goal to prevent overuse injury.

Cross-training can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries. This is done by alternating different kinds of activities. To avoid putting too much stress on the body and help prevent injuries, it is wise to alternate high-impact activities, like running, with low-impact exercises, like walking, cycling, and swimming.

How hard should athletes train?

Training at low to moderate intensity levels is enough to improve endurance. In general, this level of intensity is more enjoyable and less likely to lead to injuries than high-intensity training.

However, aerobic training programs should be designed to match each athlete’s fitness level. There are 3 ways to measure aerobic training intensity.

1. The “talk test.” During a workout, athletes should be able to say a few words comfortably, catch their breath, and resume talking. If it is difficult to say a few words, then athletes should probably slow down. If athletes can talk easily without getting out of breath, then they are probably not training hard enough.

2. Heart rate. Aerobic training occurs when heart rate during exercise is between 60% to 90% of maximal heart rate. Athletes can figure out their maximal heart rate by subtracting their age from 220.

Other factors affecting aerobic training response

  • Baseline fitness level. The more unfit athletes are, the greater the training response. However, as athletes become more fit, it will take higher levels of training to improve further.
  • Genetics. Genetics play a large role in an athlete’s natural fitness level as well as how much he will improve as a result of training.
  • Growth. As children grow, they are able to respond more to aerobic training. However, before puberty, the aerobic training response is much less than during and after puberty. This is why aerobic training is of limited value for improving endurance in young children. Activities should focus more on other goals, such as skill development and fun.

Finding Time to Be Active

See if this scenario sounds familiar—your child has come home from school with 2 hours of homework, including studying for a math test the following day. He also needs to start working on a science fair project. And don’t forget the clarinet lesson that’s on his calendar as well. There seems to be barely enough time to fit in dinner and a bath.

No wonder some kids feel that they just don’t have time for physical activity. Their schedules are filled to overflowing, and when they’re overbooked, it’s easy for physical activity to fall by the wayside.

As a parent, you need to intervene to make sure your child has time for all the things that are important. Whether he’s overweight, physical activity needs to be a priority.

Sit down with your child and structure his time after school so he can fit in everything that’s most essential. For example, in planning the following day, you might say something like, “You have a block of after-school time tomorrow. Maybe the time immediately after school isn’t the best time for homework, because it will take up the daylight hours you could be outside playing.Why don’t you think about choosing to play outdoors for 30 minutes or an hour after you get home? Then we’ll go to your clarinet lesson, and once you’ve eaten dinner and it’s dark outside, you can do your homework. The evening is the time when you used to watch TV anyway, so it’s a good time to get your homework done. And let’s think about rescheduling your clarinet lessons for the weekends.”

As a parent, you can help your child find the opportunities to be active. If you’re creative, the time will almost always be there.

Making Fitness a Way of Life

Some school-aged children can’t wait to get home from school, stake out a place on the couch, and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching TV. Physical activity is just not on their radar screens, at least not by choice.

Stopping the Slippery Slope of Childhood Obesity:

Not surprisingly, children who fit this profile may be on a slippery slope to a life ofobesity. There are a lot of them. Several years ago, when a group of children 6 to 12 years old participated in programs of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, only 50% of girls and 64% of boys could walk or run a mile in less than 10 minutes. If that same study were conducted today, when the obesity epidemic seems to be gaining momentum, those statistics might be even more troubling.

Making Exercise Into a Lifelong Habit:

During your child’s school-age years, your goal should be not only to get your child moving, but to turn exercise into a lifelong habit. There are plenty of opportunities for your child to keep active.

Getting Involved in Organized Sports:

In most communities, children in this age group can choose to get involved in a number of organized sports, including:

  • Little League
  • Youth soccer
  • A martial arts class
  • Community basketball
  • Hockey
  • Football leagues

Team sports are fun and the perfect fit for many children, and they can help them manage their weight.

But, Sports Aren’t For Everyone…

However, group activities like these aren’t for everyone. Some obese children feel self-conscious about participating in team sports and are much more comfortable getting their exercise in unstructured settings. For them, free play on the playground,ice skating, in-line skating, bowling, or even running through sprinklers is good exercise.

Let your child choose something that he finds enjoyable, and once he discovers it, encourage him to make it a regular part of life. At the same time, limit TV watching or time spent on the computer or playing video games to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. Studies have shown that the more time children devote to watching TV, the more likely they are to consume foods like pizza, salty snacks, and soda that contribute to weight gain.

If Your Child Insists He Doesn’t Want to Do Any Physical Activity:

Explain that it’s important and might even be fun to find a new activity. Try to find activities that fit the family’s budget and time commitments and have him choose among several alternatives.

How to Involve Friends & Family in Fitness Activities:

Some children might prefer to go with a friend or parent. Be creative and emphasize participation, not competition. To help your school-aged youngster become physically active, recruit the entire family to participate. Let your overweight child know that all of you, parents and siblings alike, are in his corner, and even if he has rarely exercised before, he can start now with the entire family’s support.

  • Go for family bike rides (with everyone wearing a helmet)
  • Swim together at the Y
  • Take brisk walks
  • Learn to cross-country ski
  • Sign up for golf lessons
  • Do activities of daily living together, such as household chores
  • Spend a Saturday afternoon cleaning the house or raking leaves

No matter what you choose, regular activity not only burns calories, but also strengthens your child’s cardiovascular system, builds strong bones and muscles, and increases flexibility. It can also diffuse stress, help him learn teamwork and sportsmanship, boost his self-esteem, and improve his overall sense of well-being.

Tips to Get Fit

What can I do to get more fit?

Any type of regular, physical activity can improve your fitness and your health. The most important thing is that you keep moving!

Exercise should be a regular part of your day, like brushing your teeth, eating, and sleeping. It can be in gym class, joining a sports team, or working out on your own. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Stay positive and have fun. A good mental attitude is important. Find an activity that you think is fun. You are more likely to keep with it if you choose something you like. A lot of people find it’s more fun to exercise with someone else, so see if you can find a friend or family member to be active with you.
  • Take it one step at a time. Small changes can add up to better fitness. For example, walk or ride your bike to school or to a friend’s house instead of getting a ride. Get on or off the bus several blocks away and walk the rest of the way. Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator.
  • Get your heart pumping. Whatever you choose, make sure it includes aerobic activity that makes you breathe harder and increases your heart rate. This is the best type of exercise because it increases your fitness level and makes your heart and lungs work better. It also burns off body fat. Examples of aerobic activities are basketball, running, or swimming.
  • Don’t forget to warm up with some easy exercises or mild stretching before you do any physical activity. This warms your muscles up and may help protect against injury. Stretching makes your muscles and joints more flexible too. It is also important to stretch out after you exercise to cool down your muscles.

Your goal should be to do some type of exercise every day. It is best to do some kind of aerobic activity without stopping for at least 20 to 30 minutes each time. Do the activity as often as possible, but don’t exercise to the point of pain.

A healthy lifestyle

In addition to exercise, making just a few other changes in your life can help keep you healthy, such as

  • Watch less TV or spend less time playing computer or video games. (Use this time to exercise instead!) Or exercise while watching TV (for example, sit on the floor and do sit-ups and stretches; use hand weights; or use a stationary bike, treadmill, or stair climber).
  • Eat 3 healthy meals a day, including at least 4 servings of fruits, 5 servings of vegetables, and 4 servings of dairy products.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after any exercise (water is best but flavored sports drinks can be used if they do not contain a lot of sugar). This will help replace what you lose when you sweat.
  • Stop drinking or drink fewer regular soft drinks.
  • Eat less junk food and fast food. (They’re often full of fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar.)
  • Get 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or do drugs.

7 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active

Did You Know?

  • Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 50% of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity.
  • Children and teens spend more than 7 hours per day on average using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment.
  • About 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the United States.
  • Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Getting Started

Parents can play a key role in helping their child become more physically active.

Here are 7 ways to get started:

  1. Talk with your child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child’s doctor can also suggest a sport or activity that is best for your child.
  2. Find a fun activity. Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
  3. Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate. For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all appro­priate activities.
  4. Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child’s equipment and chosen site for the sport or activity are safe. Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
  5. Turn off the TV. Limit TV watching and computer use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
  6. Make time for exercise. Some children are so overscheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  7. Do not overdo it. When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If your child’sweight drops below an average, acceptable level or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child’s doctor.

We Are Grown Men Playing a Child’s Game

  Bill Russell, the dark, gainly and responsible man who is center and co-captain of the Boston Celtics, the perennial champions of the National Basketball Association, is, without question, one of the most remarkable athletes of our time, yet he regards his life up to now as a waste. “I don’t consider anything I have done,” he has said, “as contributing to society. I consider playing professional basketball as marking time, the most shallow thing in the world.” Russell is not biting the hand that feeds him and his family; he is too canny and practical a man. He is not sullying basketball in any meaningful sense, either. It is, rather, that he is close to 30 years old and has made certain judgments that seem to him so correct and obvious that he is not afraid to enunciate them: basketball, or any other sport, is, at bottom, frivolous, and the imposition of being a Negro at-this moment in history is an obligation that cannot be met on the floor of the Boston Garden. Where and how he can fulfill it Russell does not yet know.

In six full seasons with the Celtics, Russell has been selected four times by the players in the league as the NBA’s most valuable player, including the last three years in succession; on the other two occasions he was runner-up. Before Russell joined the Celtics late in 1956, they had led the league in scoring for the five foregoing years but, nonetheless, each year the Celtics had been eliminated in the divisional playoffs. In Russell’s tenure Boston has won six of seven championships. The only year it lost out—1958—Russell was injured during the final playoff series and did not play in two of the last three games. His contributions to his team’s welfare are, however, often unsung. Not long ago, for instance, it was—who else?—Russell who found a teammate’s contact lens on the court. “Do I have to do everything for this club?” he said, with an indulgent smile.

What makes Russell’s achievements most noteworthy is that he is primarily a defensive player in what, prior to his time and success, was threatening to become an almost wholly offensive game. “Basketball,” says Red Auerbach, the Boston coach, “is like war, in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up. Russell has had the biggest impact on the game of anyone in the last 10 years because he has instituted a new defensive weapon—that of the blocked shot. He has popularized the weapon to combat the aggressive, running-type game. He is by far the greatest center ever to play the game.” By Russell’s own admission, he can block shots only 5% of the time, and even less frequently against such gifted shooters as Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson. What makes him such a formidable and dominant figure is, as he says, that “they don’t know which 5% it will be.”

Says Bill Russell: “Basketball is a game that involves a great deal of psychology. The psychology in defense is not blocking a shot or stealing a pass or getting the ball away. The psychology is to make the offensive team deviate from their normal habits. This is a game of habits, and the player with the most consistent habits is the best. What I try to do on defense is to make the offensive man do not what he wants but what I want. If I’m back on defense and three guys are coming at me, I’ve got to do something to worry all three. First I must make them slow up or stop. Then I must force them to make a bad pass and take a bad shot and, finally, I must try to block the shot. Say the guy in the middle has the ball and I want the guy on the left to take the shot. I give the guy with the ball enough motion to make him stop. Then I step toward the man on the right, inviting a pass to the man on the left; but, at the same time, I’m ready to move, if not on my way, to the guy on the left. I’m giving away all my secrets.”

“What Russell really does,” says teammate Tommy Heinsohn, “is demoralize. The other players are afraid to take their normal shots. Instead, they’re looking to see what Russell will do.” As Bill Bridges of the St. Louis Hawks said recently, “Russell told me I better bring pepper and salt to the next game. He told me I was going to eat basketballs.” Indeed, the ball has come to be known by the pros as a Wilson burger, after its manufacturer.

“In my modest opinion,” says Russell, who is not a particularly good shooter, “shooting is of relatively little importance in a player’s overall game. Almost all of us in the NBA are All-Americas. We became All-Americas by averaging 20 points or more a game, so by the layman’s standards all of us can shoot. It’s the other phases of the game that make the difference. If you’re going to score 15 and let your man score 20 you’re a deficit. If your value to the team is strictly as a shooter, you are of very little value. Offense is the first thing you learn as a kid in any sport: catch a pass, dribble, bat, shoot. You learn the offensive aspects of a game long before you learn there even are defensive aspects. These are the skills you come by naturally. Defense is hard work because it’s unnatural.

“Defense is a science,” Russell says, “not a helter-skelter thing you just luck into. Every move has six or seven years of work behind it. In basketball your body gets to do things it couldn’t do in normal circumstances. You take abnormal steps, you have to run backward almost as fast as you can run forward. On defense you must never cross your legs while running, and that’s the most natural thing to do when changing direction. Instead, you try to glide like a crab. You have to fight the natural tendencies and do things naturally that aren’t natural.

“In rebounding, position is the key. No two objects can occupy the same place at the same time. Seventy-five percent of the rebounds are taken below the height of the rim, so timing is important, because almost everyone in the league can reach the top of the rim. A really important part of rebounding is being able to jump up more than once. You have to keep trying for that ball. Sometimes you jump four or five times before you can get your hands on it. I used to practice jumping over and over again. When I was 6 feet 2, I could jump to the top of the rim 35 times, over and over.

“You have to have strong hands. Most of the time three guys will have their hands on the ball at the same time, and you have to be able to grab it away. I guess I just naturally have strong hands, but if I didn’t I would exercise until they were strong. But getting the ball is only half the job. Then you have to do something with it.”

Soccer Safety Tips

Soccer (known as football outside the United States) is one of the most popular team sports in the world. Soccer also can be a way to encourage children to be physically active while they learn about teamwork and sportsmanship.

With the growing popularity of soccer comes a greater number of injuries. However, the risk of injury can be reduced.

Tips to Help Prevent Soccer Injuries

  • Equipment. Players should use the right equipment.
    • Protective Mouthguards
    • Protective Eyewear. Glasses or goggles should be made with polycarbonate or a similar material. The material should conform to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
    • Shoes. Cleats should provide sufficient heel/arch support and grip.
    • Balls. Soccer balls should be water-resistant, the right size based on age, and properly inflated.
    • Preseason Training. There is growing evidence that preseason conditioning and balance training may reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
  • Fair Play. Violent behavior and aggressive play increase the risk of injury and should be strongly discouraged. Parents and coaches should encourage good sportsmanship and fair play.
  • Field Conditions. Uneven playing surfaces can increase risk of injury, especially in outdoor soccer. The field should be checked for holes or irregularities. Goal posts should be secured to the ground at all times even when not in use. Follow installation guidelines from the manufacturers and Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Heading Technique. The risk of a head injury is comparable to other contact/collision sports, though evidence does not support repeated heading as a risk for short- or long-term cognitive issues. However, to reduce the risk of injury from heading the soccer ball, players should be taught proper heading technique at the appropriate age and with an appropriate-sized ball.
    Excessive heading drills should be discouraged until more is known about the effects on the brain. Also, no recommendations regarding the use of helmets or cushioned pads to reduce head injury in soccer can be made at this time. More research and established safety standards and regulations are needed.

Common Soccer Injuries

Soccer injuries in general occur when players collide with each other or when players collide with the ground, ball, or goalpost. They also may result from nonbody contact, such as from running, twisting/turning, shooting, and landing. The most common types of injuries in youth soccer are sprains and strains, followed by contusions (bruises). Most injuries are minor, requiring basic first aid or a maximum of 1 week’s rest from playing soccer.

  • Ankle & Knee Injuries. Most ankle and knee injuries do not result from contact with another player. Ankle injuries are more common in male players and knee injuries are more common in female players. ACL injuries are relatively common knee injuries. Most of these injuries happen not from coming in contact with another player, but from sudden stops and pivots. ACL injury risk-reduction programs are recommended for female adolescents.
  • Heel Pain. Irritation of the growth plate of the heel bone (Sever’s Disease) is common in youth soccer. This can be treated with calf stretching, activity modification (avoid extra running), heel cups or arch supports, ice, and antiinflammatory medicine.
  • Head Injuries. Concussions are common in soccer. They usually occur when a player’s head collides with another player’s head, shoulder, or arm, or the ground. Females tend to have a slightly higher concussion risk than males. Concussions temporarily affect brain function, although loss of consciousness or blackout may or may not happen. All concussions are serious and need to be evaluated by a doctor before players can return to play. The signs and symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and usually happen right after the injury, but may take hours to days to show up. With most concussions, the player is not knocked out or unconscious.
  • Mouth, Face & Teeth Injuries. Soccer is one of the leading causes of mouth, facial, anddental injuries in sports (second only to basketball). Use of protective mouthguards may help reduce the number of injuries.
  • Eye Injuries. Eye injuries are rare, but when they occur they are often severe, resulting in damage to the eye globe or blowout fractures of the eye socket. Protective eyewear is recommended for all soccer players.