Being an avid soccer fan I am frequently asked about concussions and when is the appropriate time to allow kids to head the ball. The concern is that heading the ball will lead to concussions and potential injury. In a recent study published in the 2015 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, R Dawn Comstock PhD of the University of Colorado,  published an article entitled“An Evidence-Based Discussion of Heading the Ball and Concussions in High School Soccer.”

According to the data, girls were 1.6X more likely to have concussions than boys. The numbers for concussions are quite low with boys experiencing a concussion 2.78X every 10,000 athletic events. When the data was analyzed more closely, it turns out head to head contact is the main cause of concussions, not heading the ball. Accidently, butting heads with another player is 2X more likely to cause a concussion than heading the ball.

So ultimately, the question whether banning heading would stop concussions altogether is NO. Banning heading may stop some concussions however, minimizing player to player contact is more likely to have a greater impact on preventing head injury. A renewed focus on playing the game properly with enforcement of the rules and education of both players and coaches will hopefully minimize the concussion risk.

Paul Saiz