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Keep Your Players Safe

Since 1988, soccer has been consistently the most popular sport for children and youth in Canada. It isn’t even close. We shouldn’t be surprised to see that soccer also leads the way with the most injuries reported as well.

In a recent Canadian study using data provided from hospital emergency rooms, from a total of 56, 691 reported sports and recreational injuries, soccer accounted for the largest proportion of injuries with 11,941(during a 3 year time period-2007 to 2010). Of these, approximately 30% were fractures. The 10–14 year age group reported the greatest proportion of injuries. Males reported a greater number of overall injuries than females but not by much (57% to 43%).


Type of Soccer Injury(2007-2010)Total Soccer Injuries
Soft Tissue Injuries2,628

Obviously injuries are going to happen , however, there are a few simple things we can do as coaches to prevent unnecessary injuries and to be ready when injuries do occur.

  • Teach your players fair play. If every coach does this there will be fewer elbows to the head, tripping offences, etc.
  • Walk the field before practice and games: Check for holes, broken glass, etc.
  • Ask players before every game or practice if they have a water bottle. To be on the safe side bring a couple extra water bottles to every practice/game. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are pretty common and can be pretty serious for youth athletes.
  • All U-10 and up players should have a proper warm-up that includes dynamic stretches. Static stretching can actually cause injuries if done before a game but is ideal for the cool-down, (which is also important) after the practice or game. See Issue 8-Warming Up and Cooling Down for details.
  • Make sure your players know the proper technique involved in heading the ball to avoid concussions. See Issue 10-Is Heading the Ball Safe? For details.
  • Check to make sure your players are using proper equipment: Shin guards are mandatory and should fit properly. Encourage parents to spend a little more time and money to make sure their kids have shoes that fit properly and give their feet the necessary support to avoid discomfort and foot injuries. Suggest the use of mouth guards and head gear if a player has a history of concussions. Goalkeepers should wear a padded uniform.
  • Make sure you are aware of any allergies your players may have or other conditions such as asthma.
  • Always carry a first aid kit in your equipment bag and take a first aid course or at the very least ask your parents which of them have first aid certification so if there is an injury you are ready.
  • Always keep your cell phone with you in case you need to call 9-1-1.
  • Have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Don’t forget that mental health is just as important as physical health.

The “Think First Foundation of Canada” in conjunction with the “Canadian Soccer Association” has developed a safety program called “Playing Smart Soccer”.  This is an excellent detailed guide to keeping your players safe. Click here to download it.

Sources: The Canadian Paediatric Society:Smart-Soccer, Fridman et al. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2013,5:30 Page 2 of 6.