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US Youth Soccer Safety Initiative...New Heading Policy!!

By Staff, 06/03/18, 4:45PM CDT


No Heading for players U12 and below.


The United States Soccer Federation has taken a serious step toward dealing with the dangerous issue of head injuries in soccer, particularly in younger players by announcing a ban on heading the ball for players 10 and under and limiting heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13.  This is in response to a  Lawsuit  that was filed against US Youth Soccer.

For the upcoming 2017 Fall season, ESC has adopted the following policy dealing with heading the ball:


  1. U12 and below, no heading during practices and games!
  2. U13 and up, heading is allowed.

This rule is mandatory, non-negotiable and the result of a consent decree entered into by USYSA after litigation.  As a USYSA member club, we are required to comply.  

Heading Guidelines Implementation Effective Spring 2017:

  1. The first header in a game will result in the stoppage of play and a reiteration of the rule to both coaches and the players on the field.
  2. The 2nd instance in a game will result in an indirect free kick.
  3. The third instance will result in an indirect free kick and a player that consistently infringes on this rule will be removed from the game.
  4. A fourth instance will be left to referee discretion.  A team with repeated instances of headers in prior games may be subject to quicker escalation of the above responses if the headers continue in a subsequent game.

We do not want you to be alarmed.  We at ESC are unaware of any instance of serious header injuries in U10 and under play for some time now.  At U12 and under high energy/high velocity headers are unusual.   However, the collision/impact risk for those young players attempting headers is meaningful, and our payer’s safety is our top priority.   We know everyone will do their best to help our referees, our players, and our coaches adjust to the new policy.  

Also be sure to check out the following link to the CDC for concussion information for parents and coaches.

CDC Heads up to Youth Sports for Parents

CDC Heads up to Youth Sports for Coaches