Doug Strickland, Chattanooga Times Free Press
The study found that among youth 7 to 17 years old, the number of soccer-related emergency-room cases increased 78 percent from 1990 to 2014 and the annual rate of all soccer injuries went up 111 percent. Also, the rate of concussions and closed-head injuries increased 1,596 percent, though concussions and other head injuries only accounted for just over 7 percent of all injuries. Most injuries were sprains or strains (35 percent) fractures (23 percent) and soft tissue injuries (22 percent). Thirty-nine percent of injuries were when a player was struck by the ball or another player and 29 percent from falls.
Huiyun Xiang, senior author of the study report and director of the research core at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said: "The sport of soccer has changed dramatically in the last 25 years. We’re seeing athletes play year-round now thanks to club, travel and rec leagues, and the intensity of play is higher than it ever has been. These factors combine to lead to more risk of injury.”
The U.S. Soccer Federation in November 2015 issued guidelines for youth heading, recommending that players 10 and under no longer be allowed to head the ball. Also, players 11-12 should be limited to heading the ball a maximum of 30 minutes per week, with no more than 15-20 headers per player, per week.