COACHES CORNER

Implementation guidelines for U.S. Soccer's Player Safety Campaign
Concussion initiatives & heading for youth players 

 

CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 14, 2016) - US Club Soccer is clarifying the following implementation guidelines for U.S. Soccer's Recognize to Recover Player Safety Campaign, specifically as it relates to concussion initiatives and heading for youth players:

 

  • The Federation is recommending, and US Club Soccer is requiring immediately, new rules as it relates to heading, as follows:

    • Players in U-11 programs and younger shall not engage in heading, either in practices or in games.

    • Limited heading in practice for players in U-12 and U-13 programs. More specifically, these players shall be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes of heading training per week, with no more than 15-20 headers per player, per week.

    • Clubs should be aware of circumstances in which individual consideration is needed. For example:

      • A 10 year old playing at U-12 or older should not head the ball at all.

      • An 11 or 12 year old playing at U-14 or older should abide by the heading restrictions in practice.

    • Referees should enforce these restrictions by age group according to the specified rules. Referees will not be assessing the age of individual players on the field; they will enforce the rules for the age group.

  • Leagues and organizations are free to set their own standards, as long as the minimum requirements outlined above are met.

  • In adherence to these new requirements, referees have been instructed by U.S. Soccer of the following rule addition: When a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred.

  • Modified substitution rules also took effect Jan. 1, 2016, as follows: Any player suspected of suffering a head injury may be substituted for evaluation without the substitution counting against the team’s total number of allowed substitutions during the game.

  • US Club Soccer strongly recommends that all coaches, staff members, parents and players watch U.S. Soccer's concussions in soccer overview video.

 

RESOURCES:


As previously communicated, other player safety guidelines and mandates have been implemented by U.S. Soccer, such as guidelines regarding the number of healthcare professionals at major tournaments. For more details, please review the resources linked below.

 

Code of Conduct

 

 
For Players, Parents, Coaches and Referees

 

PLAYERS:
  • Attend all scheduled practices. If you are unable to attend a practice session or a match, inform your coach beforehand.

  • Arrive at practices and matches at the time given by your coach. You need time to warm up prior to a match.

  • Be in proper uniform at the start of a match. Shirts must be tucked in, shin guards must be fully covered by socks. In our clinic, intramural and inter-league programs, sweatshirts or sliding shorts may be worn under the uniform in cold or wet weather. Whether or not a travel player may wear these items is up to the referee’s discretion.

  • You may not wear anything that is dangerous to another player. This includes, but is not limited to: splints, casts, metal bracelets (except medical alert bracelets that are secured to the body), rings, earrings, wristwatches and hair barrettes. Taping over an earring is not acceptable – earrings must be removed. The referee’s decision on the legality of a player’s apparel is final.

  • Regulation soccer cleats (with rubber cleats) or sneakers are recommended for all matches and practices. Metal cleats and toe cleats are not allowed. Baseball and football shoes are not acceptable.

  • Cheer positively for good play on both teams.

  • Never show disrespect by word or action to a member of the opposing team, the referee, your teammates or coaches.

  • Accept the decision of the referee. Disagreement or heckling can lead to a warning or dismissal from the match.

  • The more you play, the better you’ll get. In addition to playing with your team, play soccer at home with your brothers, sisters, parents and friends. Go to a soccer camp.

  • Soccer is the most fun when you try your best.

 

PARENTS:
  • Get your child to all practices and matches at the time given by the coach. Players need time to warm up prior to a match or practice. If you leave your child at the field during practice, return promptly at the end of practice.

  • Ensure that your child is dressed properly for practices and matches. Remember that players may not wear anything that is dangerous to another player.

  • During a match, cheer positively and encourage your team – not just your child. Do not shout derogatory comments to the players on either team. Inappropriate language will not be tolerated.

  • Please leave the sideline coaching to the coach. Spectators frequently yell instructions to players that contradict those of the coach and cause confusion.

  • Referees are volunteers, not professionals. Most inter-league / intramural matches are refereed by older children who play in our club. While their decisions may not always be agreeable to all participants and spectators, they are final. Your child may decide to become a referee in the future. Treat the other referees as you would want other parents to treat your child. No useful purpose is served by shouting disagreement or derogatory remarks.

  • Remember that your child’s coach is responsible not only for the team’s behavior, but also for the behavior of parents and spectators. A parent or spectator who acts improperly can cause a coach to be dismissed from the match.

  • Parents and spectators must remain on the appointed side of the field. No one is allowed to stand behind the goal or within 18 yards of the goal line on either side of the field. Coaches and referees are asked to enforce this condition.

  • No smoking or alcoholic beverages are allowed at matches or practices.

  • Support your child unconditionally. Do not bribe or offer incentives. Bribes will distract your child from properly concentrating in practice and game situations.

  • Playing soccer should be fun for your child. Encourage your child in a positive manner. The club’s primary goal is to teach each child how to play soccer in a skillful, safe and sportsmanlike manner.

 

COACHES:
  • Your primary task as a head coach or assistant coach is to teach soccer skills to all of your players and to instill in them the love of the game.

  • Teach your players to conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner by showing respect for their teammates, coaches, opponents and the referee. Inappropriate language by players, coaches and spectators will not be tolerated.

  • Each player must play, at a minimum, half of each match, unless there are extenuating circumstances. This rule applies to all age groups and all levels of play – travel, inter-league, intramural and clinic. If the circumstances that restrict a player from playing at least half of a match persist for more than one match, the coach must inform the appropriate club Vice President – VP of Travel, VP of Inter-league/Intramural or VP of Clinic.

  • The safety and welfare of each player is tantamount. Do not allow a player to continue to practice or to reenter a match if there is any doubt as to the seriousness of the player’s injury.

  • Be prepared for each practice session. Arrive on time. Have a lesson plan. Remain at the field after practice or a match until all of your players have been picked up by their parents.

  • During a match you are responsible not only for your own conduct, but also for the conduct of the players, parents and other supporters of your team. “As the coach goes, so does the sideline.” You are never allowed on the playing field, unless requested by the referee. Inappropriate language will not be tolerated.

  • Accept gracefully the decisions of the referee as being fair. Because so much action is taking place on the field, the referee is bound to miss some calls. The referees that call our intramural and inter-league matches are children from our club. Please treat them as you would want others to treat your own child.

  • Soccer is a players’ game – not a coaches’ game. Let your players play and make their own decisions on the field. Constantly shouting instructions to the players (especially older, experienced players) is detrimental to your team.

  • Keep improving your coaching skills - attend training clinics. For the good of your team and our club, attend monthly coaches meetings.

  • Criticism of your players should be constructive in nature and conveyed to them sensitively. Playing soccer should be fun for your players. Encourage them in a positive manner.

 
REFEREES:
  • Arrive on time for your match. Be properly dressed. Walk the field to ensure that it is in safe, playable condition and free of debris. 

  • In case of rain, after you arrive at the field, prior to and during a match, you are responsible to determine if the field is playable. You should consult with the coaches; however, the final decision is yours.

  • Players must be in proper uniform at the start of a match. Shirts must be tucked in, shin guards must be fully covered by socks. In our clinic, intramural and inter-league programs, sweatshirts or sliding shorts may be worn under the uniform in cold or wet weather.

  • Players may not wear anything that is dangerous to another player. This includes, but is not limited to: splints, casts, metal bracelets (except medical alert bracelets that are secured to the body), rings, earrings, wristwatches and hair barrettes. Taping over an earring is not acceptable – earrings must be removed. Your decision on the legality of a player’s apparel is final.

  • Spectators must remain on the appointed side of the field. No one is allowed to stand behind the goal or within 18 yards of the goal line on either side of the field. You must enforce these conditions. Do not speak directly to spectators. Ask the coach to move them. Do not allow the game to continue until they are where they should be.

  • The safety and welfare of each player is tantamount. If a player appears to be injured, blow the whistle and stop play immediately. Call the coach out on to the field to tend to the injured player.

  • Enforce and apply the laws correctly. Know the FIFA rules and the appropriate intramural or inter-league rules thoroughly. Review the rules before every game.

  • Keep up with the play. Anticipate play and move quickly to be near possible incidents.

  • Deal with player, coach or spectator dissent quickly and firmly. Deal with misconduct correctly, sensibly and fairly. Do not speak directly to dissenting spectators – ask the coach to. Each coach is responsible for the sideline. If the coach can or will not control the dissenting spectator, the coach gets the card. However, remember that the coaches are adults and deserve to be addressed respectfully. 

  • Keep a full and accurate report of the match. Report the match results and any misconduct in a timely manner to the director of referees. You became a referee because you love soccer, so enjoy yourself on the field. If you enjoy yourself, so will the players!!

 

Those representing themselves as coaches and representatives of VOB in any capacity must refrain from any communication, whether written or spoken, that tends to degrade or demean any person or group. Violation of this policy, in the opinion of the VOB Board will be considered not in the best interest of VOB Soccer, and may result in action by the Board up to and including removal of the person from such capacity.

 

This in no way is meant to interfere with any person’s right of free speech. It is intended only to ensure that any person refrains from making any statements that demean any person or group, harms the children, team or club while acting in their capacity as a representative or leader of VOB. It also is important to note that local, state, provincial or national laws take precedent over this policy if there is a conflict.