Player safety is Montclair United’s primary goal and we take the subject of head trauma seriously. As research emerges and soccer’s governing bodies adopt new policies, MUSC will likewise revisit its own policies.
Soccer is a contact sport that involves some level of risk. As with all contact sports, head injuries infrequently occur from collision or impact with another player, the ground or the goal post. As a result, MUSC mandates that every trainer or parent volunteer who works with players receive a certificate from completed Head Trauma Education Training administered by the CDC. Identifying head trauma and taking appropriate action is a continual point of emphasis for all MUSC staff, contractors and volunteers.
Baseline testing is an important part of any concussion management program. In short, a baseline test is used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function. Results from baseline tests can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional if an athlete has a suspected concussion (source: CDC).
MUSC believes so strongly in baseline testing that they have contracted Barnabas Health to provide free baseline tests for any MUSC player age 10 and older. Testing is optional, but strongly encouraged. We will announce details for our Baseline Testing program prior to the Spring 2015 season.
In the event a player is removed from the game or training session due to head trauma or suspected head trauma, that player must be cleared in writing by a doctor before returning to any on-field activities. MUSC’s Player Safety Coordinator must be notified as soon as possible when there is head trauma or suspected head trauma, and will coordinate all Return-to-Play Protocols.
In the event of a suspected concussion, players are eligible to receive free post-injury tests through Barnabas Health. For questions on MUSC’s Return-to-Play Policy or post-injury tests, please contact [email protected].
Heading has been a part of soccer since its inception, but MUSC is aware that recent public debate has called into question the long-term effects of heading the ball. Currently, there is no scientific consensus that heading alone causes negative, long-term effects. Nevertheless, MUSC’s approach to heading is thoughtful, measured and flexible.
MUSC firmly believes that teaching proper heading technique is critical in preparing players to safely and confidently head the ball.
For Travel teams, the gradual introduction of heading into the training curriculum is detailed in the Player Development Standards. In short, heading is first introduced with a soft ball when players are U10. Emphasis on heading is then deliberately increased, as neck muscles strengthen, until players are expected to be proficient by U14.
For Rec teams, trainers are taught safe heading technique and players begin to practice heading with a soft ball in 5th/6th Grade leagues.
Players and parents who would feel more comfortable wearing headgear during training or games are encouraged to do so. MUSC does not endorse a specific style or brand, but a simple search on amazon.com produces a number of results.
When and how to head the ball is, in some ways, a family choice. If you are uncomfortable with heading, instruct your son or daughter not to head the ball; to practice taking the ball down with their chest or feet.
But, ultimately, heading is a component of the sport and should be part of the evaluation when determining whether soccer is the right sport for your son, daughter or family.