Football International / Soccer

Posted July 23, 2014

Soccer (1)

Thank you for viewing soccer, which is usually referred to as football.  Calling the sport “football” does not tell the whole story, in that lots of goals are actually scored on “headers,” where a player hits the ball with one’s head.  Also, it is common for participants to receive a soccer ball traveling across upwards of half the field in the same fashion.  Recent studies have raised concerns about long-term effects of this activity on brain development.  Also, impact injuries can occur when more than one player attempts to “head” the ball at the same time.  As a result regulators of the sport allow headgear made of “soft, lightweight, padded material” to be worn.  Therefore, the development team of this presentation is advising all participants to equip the most substantial headgear available at all times, in addition to the customary shoes, shin guards, and athletic support.  Face masks are permitted as well, provided they involve no “parts extending out from the surface” nor “protruding elements,” which brings up an interesting point.

Soccer (2)

Equipping players’ helmets with strong face shields would give an advantage to the respective team, in terms of being able to strike and block the ball with the front of one’s face with less trepidation.  Otherwise, an individual’s natural reaction would be to orient his or her face away from the ball before impact, thereby reducing vision and reaction time in split-second scenarios.  Provided the equipment is in compliance with said regulations, teams are conceding an advantage to their opponent without doing so.  If you or your organization has developed the prototype helmet and face shield combination with verified safety ratings, please promote your product.  As a reminder padded helmets are already available and should be worn at all times during soccer, face protection notwithstanding.  If helmets are not provided to all players, leagues should consider to institute a policy where “heading” the ball is not allowed, which ties into our next topic.

Soccer (3)

As previously mentioned, much of the scoring in soccer takes place as a result of “headers.” If such actions are outlawed for safety reasons, multi-ball may help facilitate scoring.  The official amount of soccer balls in play will vary by league and team preference, though the limit is usually capped at the total number of players on the field.  This way, all soccer balls can be kicked off at the beginning of each half, and the goalkeeper has a limited amount of time to retrieve and clear after each goal.  The main adjustment would be in terms of set plays – with more than a single soccer ball on the field, it is not practical to stop the action for free kicks and penalty shots.  These occasions are instead handled with a similar approach to the “penalty box” in ice hockey, where infringing players end up in “timeout” for an established period of time, which varies based on the nature of the infraction.  As a notice one or more additional sideline officials will be necessary to retrieve any soccer ball out of bounds and set in place for throw-ins, corner kicks, and goal kicks, so participants are not leaving the playing field themselves.  If your league has established additional guidelines, please schedule a follow-up presentation at sportwebinar.com/request, and we look forward to your input.

References:

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
FIFA – Laws of the Game
FIFA – Interpretations of the Laws of the Game – Law 04
Yeshiva University – Frequent Soccer Ball Heading May Lead to Brain Injury
Evidence of Cognitive Dysfunction after Soccer Playing with Ball Heading
Scientific American – Does Heading a Soccer Ball Cause Brain Damage?
Soccer and the Brain (Heading for Trouble?)
This Is What Happens to Your Brain When You Get Kicked in the Head
Is Soccer Bad for Children’s Heads?
Concussion Crisis Growing in Girls’ Soccer
American Society for Testing and Materials
NFHS – Soccer Headgear and ASTM Product Performance
Sports Concussion ‘Breathalyser’ Proposed
EGMNow – FIFA 14 Patch Addresses Overpowered Headers and Finesse Shots
Multi Ball Game – Top Soccer Drills
Better Soccer Coaching – Multi Ball Game to Improve Soccer Thinking Skills