In a recent post entitled, \’Knee Injury Precautions\’ I wrote about what I did as a coach when one of my players suffered any type of knee injury. After having refereed a high school junior varsity game, I would like to add another practice to my injury protocol. It has to do with concussions or head injuries.
Unfortunately this topic has been in the news lately:
- Actress Natasha Richardson\’s untimely death.
- The NFL and its continuing rash of concussions.
- The San Jose high school football player who suffer a skull fracture and had to spend nearly a month in the hospital.
What I witnessed during this particular game started when two players went to head the ball. In the process, their heads hit one another. It was not a hard hit as there was no intention by either player to head the ball a long distance. One player was fine. The other player appeared fine but after five seconds she started to show signs of the hit. She became woozy and had to sit down. She then started rubbing her head in a very unnatural manner that I had never seen before. Her actions frightened me as it did everyone else on the field. After a few minutes, the player was assisted off the field by her coach and another player but not before stumbling several times.
At the end of the game I inquired about the player\’s status. The coach informed me that she had a nasty headache but seemed to be OK. He was going to let her parents know what happened.
After having witnessed this injury, I will adopt the following head injury protocol for all players who I coach:
- The player is finished for the rest of the game or practice, PERIOD!
- The parents will be contacted immediately (not at the end of the game or practice).
- I will strongly recommend that the player be seen by a neurologist.
I may also do the same if a player heads the ball improperly and shows signs of pain or disorientation.
One question I like to ask players is, \”What is the most important body part in soccer?\” I wanted to hear \’feet\’, but after some astute youngsters declared it was the head, I changed my question to, \”What is the second most important body part in soccer?\” The head is nothing to mess with as is not just the most important body part in soccer but more importantly the most important body part in life.
Author\’s note: I\’ve never thought of equipping my children with soccer head gear and I don\’t know much about it. Perhaps I should.