Rate of injuries soaring among youth soccer players in U.S., study shows

By Rebecca Burton • Published: December 26th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

In the United States, there are more than 3 million registered soccer players under the age of 19 participating in various leagues. Now, a new study published in the online journal Pediatrics has found a significant increase in the number and rate of injuries, particularly head injuries, among soccer players nationwide.

Results found that between 1990 and 2014, the number of soccer-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. each year increased by 78 percent. The study also found that the yearly rate of injuries among 7 to 17 year olds increased by 111 percent. Head injuries, which accounted for 7 percent of injuries overall, increased by almost sixteen-hundred percent over the 25-year period. The researchers also looked at other injuries including strains, fractures and soft tissue traumas.

The researchers suggest the increase results not only from the growing number of soccer players, but also from a rise in how frequently those players are being injured. They also suggest that an increase in the sport’s popularity has led to a higher level of training intensity and a greater risk for injury.

Following a few simple guidelines while on the field can help lower the risk for serious injury. First, participation in pre-season conditioning programs can help build and strengthen muscles before the first match. Second, warming up before practice and competition can help prepare your body for strenuous activity. Third, always wear the recommended gear, such as shin guards and mouth guards.

Coaches and referees should take care to enforce the rules, because many injuries occur when the rules are broken. Adults should educate themselves about concussion symptoms and report any head injuries, even those that occur in practice. Finally, “heading” should be limited for players under age 11.

Keeping kids safe while they enjoy the popular sport of soccer should be everyone’s goal.