Youth Soccer Concussions: What Part Does Fear Play?
THOUGHTS FROM BEING KICKED IN THE HEAD
I got kicked in the head a few weeks ago! Yep, my 41 year old self, kicked in the head while coaching our U-14 Boys Academy Goalkeepers. I hopped in goal because we needed an additional keeper. Next thing I know, a boy is dribbling towards me, takes a touch a bit too far in front of him – and I am instinctively making a breakaway save at his feet. Clearly, I am a bit slower to the ground than I was 20 years ago…and BAM!….Cleat to my forehead!
I quickly decided to give his Southern upbringing a break.. but broke out in a big smile when one of the other boys quickly chimed in with a:
“She’s not a Ma’am, She’s a Coach!”
This is not, however, a commentary on the unusual benefits of women coaching boys. This is about a much more serious topic, and one that I thought about as a result of my recent kick to the noggin – CONCUSSIONS.
I am not a doctor.
I am not a trainer.
I do not want to talk about the medical side of a concussion diagnosis as I am not qualified to do so. I want to discuss how our kids are feeling about concussions.
There is a palpable fear and apprehension many children are feeling as a direct result of the media attention surrounding the increase in diagnosis of concussions. Many players, boys and girls, are genuinely scared they will get a concussion.
I think it’s safe to say that, thankfully, recently established Concussion Protocols are working and parents, athletic trainers, coaches and doctors now have specific guidelines about when it’s appropriate to Return to Play.
I think it’s also safe to say that FEAR IS RESULTING IN MORE CONCUSSION DIAGNOSES. I think this is happening in two ways:
- I think some diagnoses are inaccurate and the result of the fear a player genuinely has regarding the real possibility of having a traumatic brain injury.
- I think some players have fear/trepidation while playing and this leads to more injuries because fear can often result in improper technique.
I DEFINITELY believe we must ALWAYS err on the side of extreme caution with the health and welfare of our children. Obviously we’d all prefer an over-diagnosis of concussions than an under-diagnosis!
WHAT CAN WE DO TO ADDRESS THIS TANGIBLE FEAR?
- As parents we must let our children know we are educated about the subject and will take care of them.
- As parents we should have our child go through a Baseline Concussion Test such as the ImPaCT Test when they are healthy so we establish a baseline for Return to Play.
- As parents we must encourage our players to use proper technique and to not back out of challenges.
- As parents we must talk to our children about concussions and address any issues they may have.
How would YOU respond to what I experienced while on the bench of an ECNL game?
There was a FANTASTIC defensive header of a clearance from one of our players. She jumped higher than everyone with impressive body control and focus. She headed the ball with perfect technical form 15 yards down the field away from pressure. As coaches, we looked at each other with sideways glances for a moment, sharing a “Wow, that was amazing” look.
The comment, however, from a girl on the bench:
“Wow, she’s going to have a concussion.”