Thursday, January 28, 2016
By: Jared White
It is a fact that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. The sport is easy to learn at a young age and provides a great foundation of exercise to young athletes. Perhaps more importantly, soccer is a fun, fast-paced game. Soccer at its very core though is a contact sport, and injuries do occur. Collisions with other players can cause bruises and even concussions. Constant physical activity can also lead to pulled muscles and sprains.
With the start of a New Year and soccer picking back up, we thought it would be a good time to follow up on the importance of soccer safety for all athletes. Listed below are several tips that can help your team or athlete be prepared for another year of soccer.
Proper Gear Guidelines
It’s true, soccer doesn’t require a lot of gear to play with other than shin guards and cleats, but it’s still always a good idea to give some thought about all of the equipment your soccer player needs.
• Soccer Cleats – Pick a pair of shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles. Shoes with screw-in cleats may carry a higher risk of injury so only use them when you need extra traction, such as on a wet field or a field with tall grass. Make sure that cleats fit properly and are laced tightly before every game or practice.
• Shin Guards – If a soccer athlete sustains lower leg injuries, it is most likely because the player was not protected by acceptable shin guards. The best pair of shin guards will mold to the shin, ends just below the knee, and fits comfortably around the ankle bone. The final topping should be a pair of socks the securely fasten the shin guards in place.
• Other Gear - Mouthguards are a good way to protect your teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue. Goalies will want to wear long-sleeved shirts, pants or shorts with padding, and specialized goalie gloves to protect their hands while stopping shots.
Before Going on the Field
When getting back into the soccer season, make sure your athlete is in healthy shape. Having a soccer player continue a regular workout and eating a healthy diet will go a long way in preventing injuries. Keep up with a routine that works best for youth athlete and talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.
Warm up and stretch before playing. Do some jumping jacks or run in place for a few minutes to warm up your muscles before stretching. It’s a good idea to stretch after a game or practice, too.
Before practicing or playing a game, take a few moments to inspect the field for any holes or debris. Goals should be properly secured to the ground and padded to decrease the risk of injuries to goalies and players that may collide with the posts. Never climb on a goal or hang from a crossbar.
Safety During Game Play
This is given for any sport but especially soccer, obey the rules. Unsafe play is a major cause of injuries and will lead to a player getting carded and maybe kicked out of the game. Be mindful of the rules for the tournament or league that your athlete is participating in.
During a game, players should stay focused and be aware of teammates and opposing players at all times. Collisions are more likely to occur for players who don’t pay attention to other players.
At any point during a game, your athlete is injured or feels pain, have them step out of the game to assess the extent of the injury. It may help to have a first aid kit on hand just in case.
With some basic safety precautions, your athletes should be able to avoid most injuries and stay on the field where they want to be. For the good of the game!