Soccer is an exciting, fast-paced game that's lots of fun to play. It's easy to learn and a great source of exercise. But soccer is a contact sport, and injuries can happen. To keep things as safe as possible while playing soccer, follow these safety tips.

Safe Soccer Gear

Safe soccer gear includes:

  • Soccer cleats to prevent slipping. Soccer cleats should have molded cleats or ribbed soles. They need to fit properly and be laced up tightly each time you play.
  • Shin guards to prevent shinbone injury. Shin guards should mold to the shin, end just below the knee, and fit snugly around the ankle bone. Take your soccer socks and cleats with you when you buy shin guards to be sure that they'll fit properly.
  • Other gear. Mouthguards protect a player's teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue. Goalies should wear long-sleeved shirts, pants or shorts with padding, and specialized goalie gloves to protect their hands while stopping shots.

Safe Soccer Practice

Be sure that the team has a coach who emphasizes safe, fair play at practices and games. This includes following national rules on how often, if at all, players can hit the ball with their head ("head the ball"). Heading the ball can lead to a concussion and/or neck injury.

To prevent injuries during practice, players should:

  • Get a sports physical before starting any new sport.
  • Check the field to make sure there are no holes or other obstacles, including debris and broken glass. Store extra balls and equipment well off to the sides of the field before a practice or game starts.
  • Check the goals at each end of the field to make sure they're safe. Goals should be attached to the ground, and goal posts should be well padded. If the field is wet, use synthetic, nonabsorbent balls. Leather balls can become waterlogged and very heavy, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Remove any piercings or jewelry before playing.
  • Always warm up and stretch before playing.
  • Learn and use proper techniques, especially when heading the ball.
  • Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain. Players should get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back on the field.
  • Stay hydrated, particularly on hot, sunny days, by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after games and practices.
  • Knows the team plan for emergencies.
  • Play different sports throughout the year to prevent overuse injuries.

Safe Play

During games, players should:

  • Follow all safety rules used during practice.
  • Know the rules of the game and follow them.
  • Be respectful of the referees and not argue with their calls.
  • Stay calm if an opposing player collides with them or does something they disagree with. Don't take it personally. Let the referees handle the situation, and never start a fight with another player.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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