Soccer Federation limits headers for youth players

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- The United States Soccer Federation recently released new guidelines stating children 10 and under should not be heading the ball.

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study in September 2015 that says out of nine youth sports studied (boys’ baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and wrestling and girls’ basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball), the girls' soccer concussion rate was second highest and the boys soccer rate was the fifth highest.

These guidelines will be mandatory for youth national teams but the USSF does not have the authority to implement these regulations at the local level.

Josh Etchegoyhen is a soccer coach and runs camps at the Reno Sportsdome and is in favor of the the new rules.

“I know college female players that play soccer that have concussions on the same rate as NFL players," Etchegoyhen said. "We need to protect these kids as long as we can as they are developing in these sports.”

And he doesn't think it will impede the development of young players.

“There are a lot surfaces on the body that you can bring the ball out of the air with and heading is not necessarily the best surface for that,” said Etchegoyhen. “I see heading as passing and shooting so that can be taught later in life.”

Shari Whalen, a mother to three children who play soccer, agrees.

“It is a lot more important to me that later on in life my kids' brains still work,” Whalen said. “It is less important that my eight-year-old is winning every soccer game because they have this particular skill.”

The new rules—which also include changes to substitutions—were released in response to a class action lawsuit.

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