Player Safety: Heading changes effective Spring 2016

Evolving information about head injuries and potential long-term threats to a player's health have come to the forefront of our sport recently.  As new research reveals multiple ways player safety can be put at risk in the sport of soccer, US Soccer has developed new heading initiatives as part of an overall player safety program known as "Recognize to Recover".

US Soccer is our governing body and when initiatives come from it to our organization, we are compelled to be in compliance  With respect to the issue of player safety, Iowa Soccer has no argument with the Federation's instruction on this issue.  As US Soccer has stated and Iowa Soccer agrees, "We all have a role to play in protecting the safety of the players."  Therefore effective with the spring 2016 season, there are new limitations and restrictions on heading that coaches, parents, players and referees will need to heed.  

Iowa Soccer worked in conjunction with the organization that oversees and trains Iowa referees -- the Iowa Referee Committee (IRC) -- to coordinate information that covers the changes and where applicable, the impact to referee calls on the field.  The IRC will communicate educational updates to its referees about how to manage the rule change.

In a nutshell, the changes to heading are as follows below -- but we also invite you to take a moment to view this educational piece for all details.

  • Under 05-Under 10 age groups
    • Heading not allowed in practice
    • Heading not allowed in games
      • Referees will receive training in accordance with how to handle the rule change
  • Under 11-Under 14 age groups
    • Heading limited to 15-20 headers per player, per week
    • No game restrictions
  • Under 15-Under 19 age groups
    • No training or game restrictions

Coach/Parent Resources

Referee Resources

Communicate, Coordinate, Collaborate

  • This e-news has been sent to all Iowa Soccer members, coaches and club boards.  However, we ask that everyone be mindful of communicating these changes with each other so we can have a coordinated effort by all involved to help prevent and reduce head injuries in our sport.
Posted on March 22, 2016 .