Soccer is more popular in the United States than ever before and it is a great way to get kids outside and staying active. However, as with any sport, there is a risk of injury. In fact, every 5 minutes a child is treated in a U.S. emergency department for a soccer-related injury.

Injury Facts for 7-17 year olds

  • The majority of the injuries are sprains or strains, broken bones, or soft tissue injuries.
  • While concussions and other closed-head injuries (CHI) only account for a small percentage of the injuries overall, but the number and rate of concussions/CHIs have risen dramatically.
    • In 1990, just over 1,500 head injuries were treated in ED’s by 2014 this number skyrocketed to 22,750 – or 62 a day.
    • Athletes with concussions/CHI are twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital as patients with other diagnoses.
    • Young athletes take longer to recover from concussions than older athletes and they can put themselves at risk for second-impact syndrome and repeat concussions if they return to play too soon – both of which can lead to serious, life-altering injuries.
  • Most injuries occur when a player is struck by either another player or the ball or when they fall.
  • Older children and adolescents ages 12-17 years account for the majority of the injuries.
  • Girls are more likely than boys to get a knee or an ankle injury.

Following a few guidelines can help keep your athlete on the field

  • Participate in a pre-season conditioning program that focuses on building core muscles, strengthening neck muscles, and working on hip and thigh strength.
  • Warm up before you play.
  • Always wear the recommended protective gear (shin guards, mouth guards)
  • Follow and enforce the rules. Many injuries occur during illegal play or when coaches or referees don’t enforce the rules.
  • Learn about concussions. Know the symptoms of concussions and how to spot them. Encourage players to report any hits to the head even in if they happen in practice. Make sure to follow concussion management and return-to-play policies.
  • Limit heading for younger players. Some leagues now only allow heading once children reach 11 years of age and introduce it slowly by limiting the amount of heading in practice for children 11-13 years of age.

Soccer Resources

Press Release: New Study Finds Rate of Injuries Among Youth Soccer Players Doubled; Rate of Head Injuries Increased 1600% - September 12, 2016

Press Release:
Player-to-Player Contact Source for High School Soccer Concussions – July 23, 2008

Press Release: Study Reveals 1.6 Million Pediatric Soccer Injuries from 14-Year Period – February 1, 2007

PubMed Abstract: Epidemiology of 1.6 million pediatric soccer-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments from 1990 to 2003

PubMed Abstract:
Soccer-related Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments: 1990-2014

PubMed Abstract: The epidemiology of United States high school soccer injuries, 2005-2007