Millions of American kids have taken up soccer. Because there is not as much physical contact as in other sports, children can begin play at very young ages and on co-ed as well as single-sex teams. It's also a sport that children of all body sizes can learn to play. And the constant running provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.
The Right Soccer Equipment
All players should wear shin guards that cover the leg from below the knee to just above the foot. Knee-high socks are worn over the shin guards. Avoid shoes with screw-in metal cleats; molded plastic cleats are softer and therefore less likely to cause injury.
As children become more experienced and skilled at the game, they will want to learn about headers (bouncing the ball off their heads). They should be taught to hit the ball only with the forehead and not the temple.
Balls come in various sizes for players of different age groups. Check with your coach to make sure your child practices with the right size ball.
Movable Soccer Goals Can Be Dangerous
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is aware of 23 deaths since 1979 from soccer goals that tipped over and crushed children who climbed on them or hung from the cross bars.
Most of the goals that caused injury were “homemade” by school shop classes, custodians, or local welders. They can be heavy and unstable. The CPSC offers these injury-prevention tips:
- Instruct kids never to climb on the net or the frame of the soccer goal.
- Use extreme caution when moving the goals.
- To prevent goals from falling over during use, they should be anchored to the ground.
- Check all connecting hardware before each use and replace damaged or missing fasteners immediately.
- When goals are not in use, anchor or chain goals to fence posts, dugouts or other permanent structures.
- For storage in the off-season, take the goals completely apart.
- Use the goals only on flat fields.