1. WARM-UP: Most soccer injuries occur very early or very late in the game or practices. Early game injuries are usually related to improper warm-up prior to play. Warm-ups should last 15-30 minutes.
A. Begin with stretches. Younger players need less stretching but it is important for stretching to become part of their sports routine. Starting in U12 and older stretching is extremely important to prevent pulls and strains.
B. Next move to light movement activities with the ball, such as dribbling and passing drills.
C. Lastly, include explosive activities, such as sprints and lateral movements. These movements mimic the movements of the game. When this part of the warm-up is over, the child should be sweating.
2. CONDITIONING: Late game injury is usually due to fatigue. This is due to lack of conditioning. At the beginning of the season, start to improve the endurance and strength of your players. During games, especially at the beginning of the season, pay attention to the fatigue level of your players and rest them as needed.
REMEMBER, YOUR JOB AS A COACH IS TO MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN ARE SAFE. PROPER WARM-UPS AND CONDITIONING WILL GO A LONG WAY TO MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT GET INJURED DURING PRACTICES AND GAMES.
3. FLUIDS: The importance of fluids can not be over emphasized. All players should drink BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER athletic activity. A recommended schedule is 4-8 oz. before active play, 4 oz. every 20 minutes during active play, and 16 oz. after play. For older players and in hot weather, this should be the absolute minimum fluid intake. Thirst is not a good Indicator for fluid needs, especially during active play. Players should drink to quench thirst and then 4-8 oz. more. Water (at any temperature) is the best source of fluid intake. Sports drinks are ok as well; however, high sugar levels can inhibit the body’s fluid absorption. Carbonated soft drinks, and juices with high sugar level should be avoided at all times.
4. HEAT: Players should be watched for signs of heat sickness. Symptoms range from moist, clammy skin with nausea, dizziness, and weakness (heat exhaustion); to hot, red, dry skin with sudden collapse and mental confusion (heat stroke). To prevent heat sickness, players should drink plenty of fluids before, during and after play, take it easy and rest frequently in hot weather, put on sunscreen to prevent sunburn (which increases body temperature), and watch for early symptoms. If a player looks weak, is sweating profusely, and has flushed skin, pull him from the field, rest him in a cool shady place and give him lots of fluid (a sports drink would be good in this case, as they replace salts and other needed nutrients in the water, of course water is always ok).
5. NUTRITION: Foods that increase energy are good choice for game day and even the night before. High Carbohydrate foods (pasta, vegetables, and fruits) are recommended. Every player should eat a good breakfast on game day. For early morning games, players should eat a lighter but balanced meal. For mid-game snacks, any fruit is good (YES EVEN ORANGES). Avoid candy and other snack high in sugars.
6. HEADERS: It is recommended that children under the age of 10 not use the heading technique. They do not have adequate head and neck strength or the depth perception necessary to properly use this technique.
7. INJURIES: Remember, prevention is key, but if injuries do occur, the coach's job is to provide basic first aid, contact your regional safety director, and make sure that the proper forms are filled out and submitted.
A. FIRST AID: For extremity injures (usually ankles and knees), immediate treatment should be:
Protect the injury (only take shoes and shin guards off if you are sure it will not further injure the affected part)
Rest the injured part
Ice the injury for the first 72 hours (no heat on acute injuries) Ice should not be applied directly to skin and should be applied for 15-20 minutes twice per hour.
Compress the area to decrease swelling.
Elevate the injury above your heart.
For leg injuries, the player should not be allowed to resume play until he/she can walk without pain.
B. BLOODY INJURIES: during any AYSO sponsored event (game, practice, team party, etc.) any injury that results in bleeding requires you adhere to the AYSO's policy for handling blood. During a game or practice the Bleeding player, referee, or coach must leave the field of play. The bleeding person may not return until the bleeding is stopped and properly bandaged. ALL blood must be cleaned from the skin and clothing and neutralized with an approved agent prior to the return of this person.
FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION CONTACT YOUR REGIONAL SAFETY DIRECTOR.
THE AYSO INCIDENT REPORT FORM AND SAI (SOCCER ACCIDENT INSURANCE) CLAIM FORMS ARE AVALIABLE AT WWW.AYSO.ORG
8. EQUIPTMENT AND FIELDS: Players should wear proper safety equipment to all practices and games. This consists of SHINGUARDS completely covered by socks, shoes (cleats are not necessary but recommended) and a proper sized ball in safe condition (check inflation pressure and for rough torn edges). Players should not be allowed to wear jewelry of any kind, this includes but is not limited to; necklaces, bracelets (hard or soft), wrist bands, ear rings (not even taped), hard hair pieces, etc. Finger nails should be of an appropriate length (should not be visible over the fingertips). Field safe for coaches primarily means making sure the area you practice is safe. Look for holes, sprinkler heads, broken glass and other types of obstacles that players can trip and injure themselves on. Do not allow players to park their bikes or skateboards next to the field (bikes should be walked on the field at all times).