After U.S. Soccer announced recommendations this month to ban heading for certain ages to reduce concussions, one youth coach thinks the ban would put kids in more danger.
As America's governing body of soccer, U.S. Soccer wants to ban headers for kids 10 and under and limit heading for kids 11 through 13.
“It's going to change the way that the game is played,” said Luis Padilla, Youth Director at Soccer Nation in Kansas City, Kan.
Like most youth soccer leagues we heard back from around Kansas City, Soccer Nation plans to implement the recommendations, but not everyone agrees with the heading ban.
“Players are going to be confused what to do,” said Luis A. Sanchez.
As a youth coach with Soccer Nation, Sanchez said players have a natural instinct to head a ball in the air, and he wonders about the consequences. U.S. Soccer has yet to announce what the penalty will be, but the heading ban is meant to prevent concussions.
“It's a definite push in the right direction,” said Dr. Michael Khadavi, Carondelet Orthopaedic Surgeons & Sports Medicine.
Besides serving as a team doctor for Sporting KC, Dr. Khadavi studies concussions and agrees with the heading ban for younger soccer players.
“Seventy to 80 percent of concussions occur from headers,” Dr. Khadavi said. “It tends not to be from heading the ball, where concussions occur. It's going for a header, then heading another guy's head or heading another athlete's elbow.”
But Coach Sanchez thinks waiting will make kids more frightened to head a ball and put them in more danger as they face harder kicked balls.
“Most likely they're going to be at a higher risk because they're not going to be ready for it,” said Sanchez.
He also worries the heading ban will eventually hurt America in the World Cup.
“It will set us back because of the fact that there's going to be other countries that are going to be using it, and they're going to have the advantage,” said Sanchez.
For now, coaches at Soccer Nation will follow the new recommendations and teach the right heading techniques once players are old enough.
Patrick Fazio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .