U.S. Soccer''s Recognize to Recover Program

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By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

U.S. Soccer has made significant changes over the past few months with their Recognize to Recover program.  Recognize to Recover is a comprehensive player health and safety program that strives to promote safer play in soccer, while reducing injuries.  While the main concern at the moment is reducing head injuries, other injuries are important as well.  There has been plenty of talk about the “no heading” announcement from U.S. Soccer, but there are many other important changes.  It is important to understand the initiative is required only for the U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams and the Development Academy, but it is recommended for all other soccer levels and organizations.

- Players under the age of 10 should not engage in heading, either in practice or in games.

- Players between the ages of 11-13 should have limited heading training, at a weekly maximum of 30 minutes and no more than 15-20 headers per player.

- All coaches should be instructed to teach and emphasize the proper techniques for heading the ball.

- If a player has a suspected concussion, the player may now be evaluated without penalty (substitution rules).

- Licensed coaches and referees hired through U.S. Soccer have to watch a video to review concussion information and protocols on a yearly basis.

- U.S Soccer will now require an Athletic Trainer (AT) to be present at all U.S. Soccer Development Academy home games (was only recommended in the past).

- In youth tournaments, it is recommended that multiple healthcare providers be employed and be in collaboration with each other on the emergency action plan.

- SCAT3 and Modified BESS testing will be used on the sideline for all concussion evaluations.

- If a player has been removed from play for a concussion assessment and has not been cleared by an AT, the player may not return to play.  If the player tries to return to the field, the referee should immediately stop play, direct the player to the side of the field and direct the coach to make a substitution.

- A coach will receive a warning from the referee is he/she tries to allow a player to return without being cleared from an AT.


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