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Top Five Ways Female Soccer Players Can Avoid Concussions

Female soccer player

A topic that I have written about a few times prior to this is concussions. Although football clearly gets the lion share of the headlines, we should all be reminded that it is a huge problem in many other sports as well. I saw a recent article in Training and Conditioning Magazine that discussed the prevalence of concussions particularly in women’s soccer. The author states that women’s soccer is second only to football in concussion percentages.

The leading cause, for obvious reasons, is heading the ball. However, it’s by far the only reason. Other reasons include head collisions with other players, the ground as they fall or even striking the goalposts as their momentum carries them. Although there does not seem to be exact reasons women are more susceptible than men in soccer, theories include a lack of development of back or neck muscles and proper techniques are not being taught at early levels. Whatever the reason, it’s an issue that will continue as the popularity of women’s soccer explodes.

I bring this up because I feel very strongly that parents and athletes need to be vigilant when it comes to dealing with concussions, no matter the sport or gender. This becomes even more worrisome for soccer as the regular school season, club teams and travel leagues make this almost a year-round sport.

According to the article author, there may be ways the female soccer player can better prepare against concussions. Their top five includes:
Get baseline cognitive test – These tests should be done to establish a cognitive baseline for the athlete. If they suffer a concussion, this test will greatly help evaluate when it is safe to return to the field.

  1. Strengthen neck and back muscles – This will allow the athlete to strike the ball with more accuracy and strength.
  2. Teach better heading fundamentals – As athletes age up their coaches usually spend less time on heading techniques. Coaches need to spend more time monitoring the players’ technique to make sure they are doing it properly. Although possibly controversial, some advocate not even heading the ball until well into the high school years.
  3. Focus on defensive skills – Skills they discuss center on using their arms to help protect themselves in the air. This will provide better spacing between players and hopefully avoid some of the head-to-head collisions.
  4. Take a break – Athletes that are playing throughout the year suffer from fatigue and it doesn’t let the body heal. Constant punishment takes its toll on muscles, joints and additional opportunities for concussions.