Safety

SOCA is a non-profit community servant that partners with public and private entities to provide healthy recreational opportunities to residents of the region.  A large part of this effort is creating an appropriate and safe environment for our youth and adult players to play soccer in.  Below are a number of safety initiatives to help ensure success in this effort.

  • COVID-19 Policy

    2020 SOCA Health Policy Regarding COVID-19

    As the state of Virginia returns to soccer in the month of July and prepares for the Fall 2020 season, SOCA remains committed to the safety of our players, coaches, referees, families and communities.  We believe it is imperative that everyone adhere to the below Policy and Procedure which have been created with the information learned from the Governor of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health and Safety (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The policies and Procedures listed below are mandatory for all players, coaches and staff members to ensure all of our participants can continue to train and develop safely.  If Parents are not comfortable having their child return to play or their child is at a higher risk for severe illness, please stay home.

    Throughout the remainder of 2020 and the Fall Season SOCA will continually monitor guidance and information provided by the CDC and federal and state officials as it relates to COVID-19.
    General Information

    Mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 relies on the whole SOCA community following the policies and procedures put in place to promote everyone’s health and safety. This Policy will be communicated via email to staff and families, as well as available on the SOCA website.

    SOCA will adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, cleaning and disinfection practices, and workplace safety practices provided by the Governor of Virginia and local authorities. SOCA program size will be determined based on the current recommended standards/phase guidelines put in place by state and local governments.

    SOCA will ensure anyone who has symptoms of, has tested positive for, or has been exposed to COVID-19 follows appropriate guidelines for quarantine or isolation as discussed below.

    SOCA will continually monitor guidance and information provided by the CDC and federal and state officials as it relates to COVID-19. Policies and procedures for all activities will be adjusted as needed in order to provide our services while making every effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to the best of our ability.

    General Hygiene Practices to Mitigate the Risk of Spread of Infection

    All players, coaches, and staff members are expected to follow the following practices to mitigate transmission of any communicable disease.

    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an
    • alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Cover mouth and nose (with arm or elbow, not hands) when coughing or
    • sneezing and wash hands afterward.
    • Wear a face mask or covering when outside if you have any symptoms of upper respiratory infection.
    • Frequently clean commonly used surfaces (doorknobs, for example) with an
    • antiseptic cleanser.
    • Avoid contact with other individuals (i.e. shaking hands, high-fives, etc.).
    • Maintain a distance of six (6) feet between you and others.
    • Stay home if you feel sick and contact your health care provider.

    Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection:

    Individuals with COVID-19 can exhibit signs and symptoms which range from mild to life-threatening.  The most common symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection include:

    • Fever ( ≥100.4 degrees F)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath

    Less common symptoms that may still be evidence of COVID-19 infection include:

    • Sore throat
    • Congestion
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Headache
    • Muscle / joint pain
    • Sudden loss of taste or smell
    • Chills

    Required Participation Waivers and Protocols

    Prior to participation in any SOCA related events or activities, all players/parents must complete and agree to the online waiver as part of their registration.  The waiver includes a Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk for Communicable Diseases including COVID-19.

    All players, coaches and staff members must perform a temperature check and conduct a health screening prior to attending any SOCA related events or activities.  The temperature check and health screening can be performed by adult players or parents of minors and may be reinforced by a coach or staff member in order to look for signs of infection.  This includes:

    (1) Temperature Check – all players, staff or family members with a temperature of 100.4 or greater are prohibited from attending any event.

    (2) Health Screening – The following are to be asked of oneself or by a parent of a minor prior to attending any SOCA activities or events:

    (i)     Is your current temperature 100.4F or greater?
    (ii)     Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last fourteen (14) days?
    (iii)     Have you exhibited any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in the last fourteen (14) days?
    (iv)    Have you been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) of anyone that has been                   diagnosed with or has symptoms of COVID-19 in the last fourteen (14) days?

    If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes,” you are not allowed to attend the SOCA event or activity and you must follow the Return to Play Protocols below.

    Reporting of COVID-19 Exposure

    Any player, coach or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for or is displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19 are required to report this to SOCA at SOCA@SOCAspot.org.

    In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) the identity of the individual and all medical information will be kept confidential and will only be shared with local health officials, if required.

    Any player, coach or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for or is displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19 must follow the Return to Play Guidelines below.

    Return to Play Protocols

    These Protocols are intended to guide decision-making regarding players, coaches and staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for or is displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in order to mitigate the risk of disease transmission.

    Return to Play Following Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Infection:

    Symptomatic player, coach or staff member with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection cannot attend any SOCA related events or activities until:

    • At least ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
    • At least twenty-four (24) hours with no fever without use of fever-reducing medication, AND
    • Other symptoms have improved.

    Return to Play Following Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Who Have Not Had Any Symptoms:

    Player, coach or staff member with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms cannot attend any SOCA related events or activities until:

    At least ten (10) days have passed since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, AND

    • You continue to have no symptoms since the test.  If symptoms develop, then management should be guided according to symptomatic individuals as listed above.

    Return to Play Following Exposure to a Suspected or Diagnosed COVID-19 Infection

    Any asymptomatic player, coach or staff member who has come in close contact with an individual with a suspected or diagnosed case of COVID-19 is restricted from participation in any SOCA related events or activities for at least fourteen (14) days and shall monitor for any symptoms described above.

    If the player, coach or staff member is asymptomatic after fourteen (14) days since last exposure, they can return to SOCA events or activities.  Here, “close contact” means any one of the following:

    • Providing care for a sick person with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
    • Living in the same household as an individual with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
    • Being within six (6) feet of an individual with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection for fifteen (15) minutes or more.
    • OR:
    • Having exposure to respiratory secretions from an individual with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection (e.g., being coughed or sneezed on, sharing water bottle or utensils, kissing, etc.).

    Match / Practice Environment

    SOCA offers many different programs for all age groups, genders and levels of play.  Specific program considerations will be issued as necessary on a program by program basis.  However, the following general protocols are in place for all SOCA activities.  These protocols and procedures are designed to represent common-sense best practices that will limit exposure to COVID-19 during SOCA programming.  SOCA’s number one priority is to establish an environment that is safe for all players and coaches using these guidelines.

     

    • SOCA will adhere to the maximum allowable number of people per field restrictions in place. Parents will be asked to stay away from games and practices when necessary and possible.
    • Schedules will include 30 minute buffer times between games to allow for egress and ingress between games.
    • Sidelines will be marked for social distancing so that bench and spectator areas are well separated with ten feet of distance between individuals.
    • Players will have designated places on their sideline to store water and equipment bags separated by ten feet from teammates.
    • Coaches will not bring teams in for huddles for pre-game, halftime or post-game talks.
    • No pre-game group cheers, no post game handshakes between teams, no sharing of water between players and no group goal celebrations or high fives.
    • Players will be screened by parents before coming to events and by coaches once they arrive for COIVD symptoms. Anyone showing symptoms will be sent home.
    • Equipment will be sanitized prior to each practice or game.
    • Players are recommended to use hand sanitizer before and after every practice and game.
    • Coaches will be required to wear masks whenever possible while on bench areas near players.
    • Signage will be posted at all field sites with public health reminders and stating that no one with fever or symptoms of COVID-19 are allowed on the premises.
    • All families will sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of participating in soccer with regard to COVID-19 and communicable diseases.

    Players will be allowed normal physical contact during play.  However, physical distancing measures will be taken outside of play.

    When will Physical Distancing Occur?

    • Water Breaks – Every player will have their own designated hydration area that will be 10 feet from the nearest player.
    • Group Talks – Coaches must make sure players keep their 10 feet distance while delivering any group talks.
    • Arriving and Departing the field – Players must maintain their 10 foot distance and not walk shoulder to shoulder.

    Guidelines for Players

    • Cannot be feeling sick or have a temperature of 100.4 or more.
    • Players may not attend SOCA events if they have been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. (see close contact definition above)
    • Each player is responsible for their own water, ball, and hand sanitizer.
    • Players may not share water.
    • Avoid touching soccer balls with their uncovered hands when possible.
    • Must follow physical distancing protocols when not playing, should wear masks arriving and departing the fields.
    • Use hand sanitizer before and after each session.
    • High fives, handshakes, hugs, and any other greeting or celebration that involves contact, are not permitted.
    • Failure to comply with safety protocols may result in a dismissal from any SOCA session.

    Guidelines for Coaches

    • Any coach with a temperature of 100.4 or more, or feels sick cannot attend a SOCA session.
    • Any coach who has been in close contact to COVID-19 may not participate until following the Return to Play protocol above.
    • Must wear a mask when within 10 feet of a player.
    • Sanitize hands before and after each session.
    • Ensure any shared equipment is washed or sanitized between uses.

    Guidelines for Parents

    • Administer a temperature check to your player before attending a SOCA event. Must keep child at home if they are feeling sick or have a temperature of 100.4 or more.
    • Must practice social distancing if attending matches. All households must maintain a distance of 10 feet when at an event.  Parents should not attend practices and should stay away from the field unless there are extenuating circumstances.
    • If attending a SOCA event all attendees must wear a face covering or mask.
    • Make sure your child has the above-mentioned recommended items.
    • Must notify your team coach if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 or is required to quarantine for a period of time.
    • Help your player arrive on time and exit promptly after each SOCA event to avoid contact with others from earlier or later events.
  • Field Closings & Inclement Weather

    SOCA may cancel SOCA sanctioned activities if weather or field conditions are unfit for play or travel.  Please check the SOCA weather line or front webpage banner before leaving for any match or training.  On weekdays the weather line is updated by 2pm and on weekends by 7:45am.  However, weather events (rain) may develop throughout the day and updates to the field status may occur at any time so check the weather line before leaving for your event to learn of updates.

    SOCA Weather Line = 434-817-7246 (434-817-RAIN) or www.socaspot.org

    All coaches, captains, team leaders and referees, in all programs, are instructed to comply with any cancellation and field closing notices. Such notices may be issued by either SOCA or the agency responsible for the care of the field. Compliance with cancellation and field closing notices applies to matches as well as training.

    When fields are closed anytime during the day, they are then closed for the remainder of the day, until the status is updated by SOCA.  Should a referee deem a field to be unplayable due to isolated weather or field conditions in the area, they may close a field and cancel games as necessary.

  • Lightning Policy

    When clear and distinct thunder is heard, or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen, the thunderstorm is close enough to strike your location with lightning. Suspend play and take shelter immediately.

    Thirty-minute rule. Once play has been suspended, wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or flash of lightning is witnessed prior to resuming play.  Any subsequent thunder or lightning after the beginning of the 30-minute count, reset the clock and another 30-minute count should begin.

    Referees and Coaches shall work together to determine whether to cancel a match indefinitely or suspend play until the storm clears the area.

    ***During Summer months, thunderstorms occur in a very isolated manner.  It may not be possible for SOCA to make county wide decisions via the weather line.  In these cases referees are responsible for managing the fields in their immediate area.***

  • Extreme Heat or Cold

    In situations where the temperature is determined to be extreme in either heat or cold, play may be suspended.  SOCA will make every effort to make these decisions on a County or area wide basis whenever possible.  However isolated decisions may be made at individual game sites.  In these situations coaches and referees should make decisions as a group with the safety of the players in mind first.

    The measure of adding of one extra hydration break during each half of play should be taken for all matches where conditions are uncomfortably warm or teams are short on substitutions.  In these cases, pregame and halftime periods may need to be adjusted to maintain the daily match schedule for that field location.  Referees, coaches, and other team officials should work together and agree on the addition of these breaks before the start of play.

  • Goal Safety

    Goals or nets are never to be climbed or hung on.  All goals in use for a practice or game should always be anchored or counter weighted.  If a goal is moved or reset during a training session, please ensure the proper anchors are put back in place.

    Referees and coaches should take the time on game day to make sure goals are adequately anchored to the ground before play begins.

  • Player Equipment & Jewelry

    It will be at the referee’s discretion to determine what is dangerous at the start of each game and before players enter the field.

    All players must wear shin guards. Children will not be permitted to play if they are wearing anything dangerous to themselves or to other players.  This includes jewelry, casts (without appropriate padding), or joint supports and braces with exposed metal or hard plastic.

    No earrings, bracelets, or necklaces will be permitted.  All hair berets or other hard pieces of jewelry should be removed before play begins.  PLAYERS  MAY NOT COVER EARRINGS WITH TAPE, EARRINGS MUST BE REMOVED TO PLAY.  Please plan accordingly.

    Cleats with a prominent front toe cleat are not permitted (Baseball and Football cleats).  Turf or flat sole shoes may be worn but are not recommended for natural grass play.

    Children with braces on their teeth are encouraged to wear a mouthpiece during play.

    Players are allowed to participate while wearing a hard cast or brace as long as they meet the following requirements:
    * The player has been cleared by a medical professional to participate fully in the activity. (Obtain a note from your doctor in case there are any concerns.)
    * The cast or hard material is properly padded and covered.  This is recommended to be at least an inch of padded material (Foam padding, bubble wrap, other soft padded materials).  The ultimate decision on player participation is the match referee or official who must inspect the area in question.

  • Concussion Policy

    Youth Concussion Management Plan

    What is a Concussion?
    A concussion is a brain injury caused from a violent jolt, bump or blow to the head or body that is results in a temporary disruption of normal brain function. They can range from minor to major, but all classify as a brain injury. A concussion can cause a variety of symptoms, many not resulting in a loss of consciousness. There are a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional signs and symptoms of a concussion, some being subtle and
    difficulty to fully recognize while others can be obvious and distinct.
    Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
    Headache
    Blurry or Double Vision
    Feeling “foggy” Irritability Excessive
    Drowsiness
    Nausea or Vomiting
    Fatigue or Feeling Slowed Down
    Nervousness
    Sleeping more than normal
    Dizziness
    Sensitivity to light
    Difficulty remembering
    More emotional
    Sleeping less than usual
    Instability
    Numbness/tingling in extremities
    Difficulty concentrating
    Depression
    Trouble falling asleep
    MAKE SURE TO REPORT ALL SIGNS/SYMPTOMS TO YOUR ATHLETIC TRAINER, LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL or PARENT!

    Definitions:
    Concussion: A brain injury that is characterized by an onset of impairment of cognitive and/or physical functioning and is caused by direct or indirect traumatic forces to the head. A concussion can occur with or without a loss of consciousness.  Proper management is essential to the immediate safety and long‐term future of the injured individual. (Consensus statement on concussion in sport)

    Second Impact Syndrome: A condition in which a second concussion is sustained before a first concussion has properly healed. This causes rapid and severe brain swelling and often has catastrophic results. (CDC)

    Licensed Health Care Professional: A physician, physician assistant, osteopath, or certified athletic trainer licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine; a neuropsychologist licensed by the Board of Psychology; or a nurse practitioner licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. (BOE)

    Youth Athlete: Any soccer player in SOCA’s youth soccer programs.

    ATC: Certified Athletic Trainer.

    Concussion Assessment and Management
    1. NO youth athlete with a concussion or with signs/symptoms of a concussion should continue to play or return to a game after sustaining a concussion. They must be removed from activity/participation and be evaluated. A youth athlete diagnosed/presents/suspected of a concussion shall NOT return to competition/activity that same day. They will undergo the concussion management plan outlined in this policy. A youth athlete may only return to participation when asymptomatic at rest, with exertion, or when cleared by a licensed health care professional.
    2. SOCA encourages every youth athlete ages 10 and up to attain a baseline neurocognitive assessment prior to the start of the season and to be repeated periodically over the course of their career. The baseline assessment may be obtained from physicians and other health care providers. SOCA maintains a list of providers of baseline assessments. After an injury is sustained a post‐injury assessment can be performed to better assist licensed health care professionals in making appropriate return to play decisions.
    3. All parents and guardians of youth athletes and all volunteer coaches shall annually receive information on the nature and risk of concussions, criteria for removal and return to play, and risks of not reporting the injury and continuing to play. All parents, guardians and volunteer coaches shall certify that they have received this information. The certifications shall be maintained for at least 7 years.
    4. All paid coaches and ATCs are required to complete annual concussion training through Center of Disease Control (CDC) Head’s Up to Youth Sports: Online Training. (Link: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/coach.html)
    5. When a youth athlete sustains a concussion or a concussion is suspected by the coach or licensed health care professional of having a concussion, the management plan below will be followed:
    If an ATC is on‐site:
    1. The youth athlete will be evaluated by an ATC with the SCAT 3 at the time of the injury.
    i. If the youth athlete is cleared through the SCAT 3 they may return to play and it is not required that the ATC proceed to Step 2 and the following steps.
    ii. If the youth athlete is not cleared to play then the ATC shall follow
    appropriate guidelines for referral and the ATC will proceed to the
    following steps beginning with step No. 2.
    2. The ATC will notify the youth athlete’s parent/guardian and provide at
    home care instructions.
    3. The parent/guardian should provide transportation home. The youth
    athlete should not be allowed to drive themselves home.
    4. If a parent/guardian cannot be reached, the ATC should ensure the youth athlete is in the care of a responsible adult who is capable of monitoring the youth athlete and who understands the home instructions. Efforts to contact the parent/guardian should continue.
    5. The ATC should notify appropriate personnel of the youth athlete’s
    condition, including but not limited to the youth athlete’s coaches.
    6. Appropriate documentation of the youth athlete’s injury should be
    maintained by the ATC.
    7. If seen by a physician, youth athletes must bring written documentation of medical clearance from the licensed health care professional before returning to play.
    8. The youth athlete must have no symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours
    prior to considering medical clearance to return to play.
    9. Unless otherwise directed by a licensed health care professional, all
    youth athletes must follow the Gradual Return to Play Protocol for a
    minimum of 5 days prior to returning to full participation.
    10. If the youth athlete develops any signs or symptoms during the Gradual Return to Play Protocol, after they have rested for 24 hours and tried a second time to progress, they must be re‐evaluated by a licensed health care professional with specialty training in concussion diagnosis and management.
    If an ATC is not present or on‐site:
    If the ATC is NOT ON‐SITE/PRESENT at the time of suspected head injury, the coach is responsible for removing the youth athlete from the field of play and will notify the youth athlete’s parent/guardian. Any youth athlete with a suspected concussion due to exhibiting symptoms of a concussion should not return to play that day nor until:
    1. Evaluated by an appropriate licensed health care professional.
    2. Written clearance has been received from such licensed health care
    professional.
    3. The youth athlete must have no symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours
    prior to considering medical clearance to return to play.
    4. Unless otherwise directed by a licensed health care professional, all
    youth athletes must follow the Gradual Return to Play Protocol for a
    minimum of 5 days prior to returning to full participation.
    5. If the youth athlete develops any signs or symptoms during the Gradual Return to Play Protocol, after they have rested for 24 hours and tried a second time to progress, they must be re‐evaluated by a health care professional with specialty training in concussion diagnosis and
    management.
    *REMEMBER: When in doubt, sit out

    Appendix A
    Concussion Gradual Return to Play Protocol
    Many risks are involved with premature return to play while symptomatic:
    1. Greater risk for a second concussion due to a lower concussion threshold
    2. Second impact syndrome (abnormal brain blood flow that can result in
    death)
    3. Exacerbation of any current symptoms
    4. Increasing the risk of injury due to alteration in balance
    Unless otherwise directed by a licensed health care professional, once a youth athlete is symptom‐free at rest for 24 hours, and has a signed release by the treating clinician or a
    licensed health care professional, he/she may begin the return to play progression below:
    Stage of Rehabilitation Functional Exercise
    Day 1: No Activity Physical and mental rest until asymptomatic
    Day 2: Light physical exertion May walk or walk/jog around the field for 20‐30 minutes.
    Day 3: Moderate levels of physical exertion May participate in individual agility and shooting drills, no team drill participation.
    Day 4: Non‐contact sport specific drills May participate in team drills with no scrimmage or game type play.
    Day 5: Full contact practice May participate in full practice.
    Day 6: Return to full normal game play
    Each step should take 24 hours. If any post‐concussion symptoms present while in the return to play progression, the student should drop back to the previous ASYMPTOMATIC level and try to progress again after a further 24‐hour period of rest has passed.
    During the Gradual Return to Play Protocol, youth athletes may attend games, practices and other activities as long as they do not participate athletically in such activities.

    Parent and Guardian Concussion Information
    What is a concussion?
    A concussion is a brain injury which results in a temporary disruption of normal brain function.  A concussion can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head can be serious. An athlete does not have to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion. A concussion may cause multiple symptoms. Many symptoms appear immediately following the injury, while others may develop over the next several days or weeks.
    The symptoms may be subtle and are often difficult to fully recognize.

    What should I do in the first 24‐48 hours?
     Your athlete should not be left alone. Check on him/her regularly throughout the night.  However, it is okay to let them sleep. You only need to wake them up if you are concerned about their breathing or how they are sleeping.
     Your athlete should not drive while they are still having symptoms.
     Check with your doctor before giving any prescribed pain medications.
     It is OK to use an ice pack on the head and neck for comfort.
    When should I take my child to the doctor?
    All athletes who sustain a concussion need to be evaluated by a licensed health care professional who is familiar with sports concussion diagnosis and management. You should call their physician and explain what has happened. A follow‐up appointment should be scheduled with the primary care doctor or a sports concussion specialist if directed.
    If any of your athlete’s signs or symptoms worsen, then proceed IMMEDIATELY to the nearest emergency medical facility.
    Additional symptoms to watch for that would require IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION includes:
    o Headaches that worsen
    o Very drowsy
    o Cannot be awakened
    o Cannot recognize people or places
    o Seizures
    o Repeated vomiting
    o Increasing confusion
    o Neck pain
    o Slurred speech
    o Weakness/numbness in arms/legs
    o Unusual behavior changes
    o Significant irritability
    o Less responsive than usual

    How can a concussion affect school work?
    Following a concussion, many athletes will have difficulty in school. These problems may last for days or months and often include difficulties with short‐ and long‐term memory, concentration, and organization.
    In many cases it is best to lessen the athlete’s class load early on after the injury. This may include staying home from school for a few days then a lightened schedule for a few additional days. It is possible that a longer period of time may be needed. Decreasing the stress on the brain early on after a concussion may lessen symptoms and shorten recovery time. In general, RETURN TO LEARN happens before RETURN TO
    PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
    When can an athlete return to play following a concussion?
    NO athlete should return to play or practice on that same day as the injury. Studies have shown that a young brain does not recover quickly enough for a athlete to return to activity in such a short time. Your athlete should not participate in any high‐risk activities which may lead to head injury. This includes physical education class, recess, and riding a bike or skateboard until they have been cleared to do so by a licensed health care professional.
    Once an athlete has been symptom‐free of any new symptoms following the concussion for a minimum of 24 hours and is cleared to return to physical activity by a licensed health professional (with knowledge of care for sports concussions) he or she may proceed with activity in a supervised, step‐by‐step fashion, to allow the brain to readjust
    to exertion. This should occur over a minimum of five (5) days. (See Gradual Return to Play Protocol)
    Why is it so important that an athlete not return to play until they have completely recovered from a concussion?
    A second concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can slow recovery or increase the chances of long‐term problems. In rare cases brain swelling can result, leading to permanent brain damage or even death. This is known as second impact syndrome.
    What is the best treatment to help my athlete recover more quickly from a concussion?
    The best treatment for a concussion is rest, both physically and mentally. There are no medications that can speed the recovery from a concussion. Exposure to loud noises, bright lights, computers, video games, television, and phones (including text messages) may worsen the symptoms of a concussion. You should allow your athlete to rest as
    much as possible in the days following the injury. As the symptoms decrease, you can allow increased use of electronic devices. If symptoms worsen after increasing use, access must again be limited.
    How long do the symptoms of a concussion typically last?
    The symptoms of a concussion will usually go away within one week to 10 days of the initial injury. In some cases, symptoms may last for several weeks or even months.
    Is a CT scan or MRI needed to diagnose a concussion?
    Diagnostic testing, including CT and MRI scans are rarely needed following a concussion.  While these are helpful in identifying life‐threatening brain injuries, they are not  normally utilized by athletes with mild to severe concussions. A concussion is diagnosed based on the athlete’s description of the injury or event and the licensed health care
    provider’s physical examination.
    When should the athlete see a sports concussion specialist?
    Any athlete who has had significant or recurrent head injuries or whose symptoms persist beyond 10 days may benefit from an evaluation completed by a pediatric sports concussion specialist. Your child’s physician may also recommend a specialty evaluation if they have any concerns or need further assistance with the athlete’s concussion
    management. Neuropsychological testing, which should be part of the evaluation when possible, can be helpful to assist with return to academic and physical activity, (2010 AAP Sport‐Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents).

    Some of this information has been adapted from the CDC’s “Head’s Up: Concussion in HighSchool Sports” and the NFHS’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. Please go to www.cdc.gov
    for more information.

  • Concussion FAQ's

    SOCA Concussion Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is a concussion? A concussion is a brain injury resulting from a blunt force to the head or body. Symptoms of a concussion include confusion, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, poor attention span, difficulty with concentration, rapid mood swings, memory loss of before or after injury, among many others.
    2. How can I get a concussion? In soccer, concussion usually results from a direct impact of the head or body with another object, such as another player’s head or other body part, the ground, or the goal.
    3. How do I know if I have had a concussion? Symptoms including headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty with recent memory. However, these symptoms may also indicate a more serious head injury. A healthcare provider must conduct an evaluation to determine the appropriate diagnosis.
    4. What should I do if I have a concussion or think I have had a concussion? First of all, do not panic; the vast majority of players diagnosed with a concussion fully recover with no residual effects. Secondly, communicate with your coach, parent/guardian, and athletic trainer. Not telling your coach, parent/guardian or athletic trainer places you, the player, at risk of a poor recovery and further injury.
    5. I have been diagnosed with a concussion, now what? If you have been diagnosed with a concussion, you will need to be reevaluated by a health care provider prior to returning to play. After being cleared to return to play, you should progressively increase the length and intensity of your activities; do not restart at full intensity. If any symptoms of your concussion come back, stop the activity, and communicate with your coach and parent to arrange the appropriate medical care.
    6. Now that I have had a concussion, can I still play soccer? YES, but you will need to have a period of rest to allow your brain to recover. Returning too early to practice or play will delay your recovery and place you at risk of longer term problems.
    7. Do concussions lead to long-term problems with memory or behavior? In certain, very rare cases, YES. Yet, for the majority of cases in which athletes communicate with their coach, parent/guardian and health care provider and follow their instructions, a full recovery is achieved with no lasting problems or behaviors. Continued participation in activities will lead to increased symptoms, a longer recovery and place you at risk for additional head injuries which may result in long-lasting problems.
    8. If I do have a concussion, what do I need to do to return to play if my parent/guardian, coach, trainer, or doctor thinks I have a concussion? If you think you have a concussion, tell your coach, your athletic trainer, and your parent/guardian. Before returning to practice or play, you must be symptom-free and you will need a note from a healthcare professional stating that you can return to play. Following these steps will assist you in having a good outcome following a concussion…and insure your ability to continue play soccer and other sports.
  • Heading and Game Play Limitations

    No heading is allowed in matches U11 matches and below.

    Whenever the ball strikes a player in the head, play is stopped. The proper restart depends upon whether the player deliberately played the ball with his or her head. If deliberate, the proper restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team. If this occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the end line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If the play by the head is deemed inadvertent, then the proper restart is a dropped ball.

    In these age groups, there will be no Goalkeeper punting or drop-kicking of the ball during play. Goalkeepers may either distribute the ball with their hands or play the ball from the ground as a field player.

    When a goalkeeper gains possession of the ball, all opposing players shall retreat behind an invisible build out line located roughly at the top of the center circle on the half of the field where the ball is. Players may advance past this invisible restraining line once the ball is initially played.

    The same build out line shall be used for opposing players on all goal kicks.

    Goakeepers who have the ball in hand may appeal to the referee to move defenders back to the invisible build out line prior to restarting the play. However, they may also restart the play quickly and don’t need to wait for players to retreat if they don’t want to. As soon as the ball is released from the goalkeepers hands, even to drop the ball to their feet, it is considered live and defenders may advance.

    If a ball is passed back to a goalkeeper and they are playing it with their feet, play is still live and defenders may defend as normal. Only when a goalkeeper has the ball in hand or in the case of a goal kick must defenders retreat to the top of the center circle.

  • COVID-19 Policy
  • Field Closings & Inclement Weather
  • Lightning Policy
  • Extreme Heat or Cold
  • Goal Safety
  • Player Equipment & Jewelry
  • Concussion Policy
  • Concussion FAQ's
  • Heading and Game Play Limitations

COVID-19 Policy

2020 SOCA Health Policy Regarding COVID-19

As the state of Virginia returns to soccer in the month of July and prepares for the Fall 2020 season, SOCA remains committed to the safety of our players, coaches, referees, families and communities.  We believe it is imperative that everyone adhere to the below Policy and Procedure which have been created with the information learned from the Governor of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health and Safety (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The policies and Procedures listed below are mandatory for all players, coaches and staff members to ensure all of our participants can continue to train and develop safely.  If Parents are not comfortable having their child return to play or their child is at a higher risk for severe illness, please stay home.

Throughout the remainder of 2020 and the Fall Season SOCA will continually monitor guidance and information provided by the CDC and federal and state officials as it relates to COVID-19.
General Information

Mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 relies on the whole SOCA community following the policies and procedures put in place to promote everyone’s health and safety. This Policy will be communicated via email to staff and families, as well as available on the SOCA website.

SOCA will adhere to the physical distancing guidelines, cleaning and disinfection practices, and workplace safety practices provided by the Governor of Virginia and local authorities. SOCA program size will be determined based on the current recommended standards/phase guidelines put in place by state and local governments.

SOCA will ensure anyone who has symptoms of, has tested positive for, or has been exposed to COVID-19 follows appropriate guidelines for quarantine or isolation as discussed below.

SOCA will continually monitor guidance and information provided by the CDC and federal and state officials as it relates to COVID-19. Policies and procedures for all activities will be adjusted as needed in order to provide our services while making every effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to the best of our ability.

General Hygiene Practices to Mitigate the Risk of Spread of Infection

All players, coaches, and staff members are expected to follow the following practices to mitigate transmission of any communicable disease.

  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an
  • alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover mouth and nose (with arm or elbow, not hands) when coughing or
  • sneezing and wash hands afterward.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when outside if you have any symptoms of upper respiratory infection.
  • Frequently clean commonly used surfaces (doorknobs, for example) with an
  • antiseptic cleanser.
  • Avoid contact with other individuals (i.e. shaking hands, high-fives, etc.).
  • Maintain a distance of six (6) feet between you and others.
  • Stay home if you feel sick and contact your health care provider.

Symptoms of COVID-19 Infection:

Individuals with COVID-19 can exhibit signs and symptoms which range from mild to life-threatening.  The most common symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection include:

  • Fever ( ≥100.4 degrees F)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Less common symptoms that may still be evidence of COVID-19 infection include:

  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Muscle / joint pain
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell
  • Chills

Required Participation Waivers and Protocols

Prior to participation in any SOCA related events or activities, all players/parents must complete and agree to the online waiver as part of their registration.  The waiver includes a Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk for Communicable Diseases including COVID-19.

All players, coaches and staff members must perform a temperature check and conduct a health screening prior to attending any SOCA related events or activities.  The temperature check and health screening can be performed by adult players or parents of minors and may be reinforced by a coach or staff member in order to look for signs of infection.  This includes:

(1) Temperature Check – all players, staff or family members with a temperature of 100.4 or greater are prohibited from attending any event.

(2) Health Screening – The following are to be asked of oneself or by a parent of a minor prior to attending any SOCA activities or events:

(i)     Is your current temperature 100.4F or greater?
(ii)     Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last fourteen (14) days?
(iii)     Have you exhibited any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in the last fourteen (14) days?
(iv)    Have you been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) of anyone that has been                   diagnosed with or has symptoms of COVID-19 in the last fourteen (14) days?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes,” you are not allowed to attend the SOCA event or activity and you must follow the Return to Play Protocols below.

Reporting of COVID-19 Exposure

Any player, coach or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for or is displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19 are required to report this to SOCA at SOCA@SOCAspot.org.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) the identity of the individual and all medical information will be kept confidential and will only be shared with local health officials, if required.

Any player, coach or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for or is displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19 must follow the Return to Play Guidelines below.

Return to Play Protocols

These Protocols are intended to guide decision-making regarding players, coaches and staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for or is displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in order to mitigate the risk of disease transmission.

Return to Play Following Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Infection:

Symptomatic player, coach or staff member with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection cannot attend any SOCA related events or activities until:

  • At least ten (10) days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
  • At least twenty-four (24) hours with no fever without use of fever-reducing medication, AND
  • Other symptoms have improved.

Return to Play Following Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Who Have Not Had Any Symptoms:

Player, coach or staff member with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms cannot attend any SOCA related events or activities until:

At least ten (10) days have passed since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, AND

  • You continue to have no symptoms since the test.  If symptoms develop, then management should be guided according to symptomatic individuals as listed above.

Return to Play Following Exposure to a Suspected or Diagnosed COVID-19 Infection

Any asymptomatic player, coach or staff member who has come in close contact with an individual with a suspected or diagnosed case of COVID-19 is restricted from participation in any SOCA related events or activities for at least fourteen (14) days and shall monitor for any symptoms described above.

If the player, coach or staff member is asymptomatic after fourteen (14) days since last exposure, they can return to SOCA events or activities.  Here, “close contact” means any one of the following:

  • Providing care for a sick person with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
  • Living in the same household as an individual with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
  • Being within six (6) feet of an individual with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection for fifteen (15) minutes or more.
  • OR:
  • Having exposure to respiratory secretions from an individual with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection (e.g., being coughed or sneezed on, sharing water bottle or utensils, kissing, etc.).

Match / Practice Environment

SOCA offers many different programs for all age groups, genders and levels of play.  Specific program considerations will be issued as necessary on a program by program basis.  However, the following general protocols are in place for all SOCA activities.  These protocols and procedures are designed to represent common-sense best practices that will limit exposure to COVID-19 during SOCA programming.  SOCA’s number one priority is to establish an environment that is safe for all players and coaches using these guidelines.

 

  • SOCA will adhere to the maximum allowable number of people per field restrictions in place. Parents will be asked to stay away from games and practices when necessary and possible.
  • Schedules will include 30 minute buffer times between games to allow for egress and ingress between games.
  • Sidelines will be marked for social distancing so that bench and spectator areas are well separated with ten feet of distance between individuals.
  • Players will have designated places on their sideline to store water and equipment bags separated by ten feet from teammates.
  • Coaches will not bring teams in for huddles for pre-game, halftime or post-game talks.
  • No pre-game group cheers, no post game handshakes between teams, no sharing of water between players and no group goal celebrations or high fives.
  • Players will be screened by parents before coming to events and by coaches once they arrive for COIVD symptoms. Anyone showing symptoms will be sent home.
  • Equipment will be sanitized prior to each practice or game.
  • Players are recommended to use hand sanitizer before and after every practice and game.
  • Coaches will be required to wear masks whenever possible while on bench areas near players.
  • Signage will be posted at all field sites with public health reminders and stating that no one with fever or symptoms of COVID-19 are allowed on the premises.
  • All families will sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of participating in soccer with regard to COVID-19 and communicable diseases.

Players will be allowed normal physical contact during play.  However, physical distancing measures will be taken outside of play.

When will Physical Distancing Occur?

  • Water Breaks – Every player will have their own designated hydration area that will be 10 feet from the nearest player.
  • Group Talks – Coaches must make sure players keep their 10 feet distance while delivering any group talks.
  • Arriving and Departing the field – Players must maintain their 10 foot distance and not walk shoulder to shoulder.

Guidelines for Players

  • Cannot be feeling sick or have a temperature of 100.4 or more.
  • Players may not attend SOCA events if they have been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. (see close contact definition above)
  • Each player is responsible for their own water, ball, and hand sanitizer.
  • Players may not share water.
  • Avoid touching soccer balls with their uncovered hands when possible.
  • Must follow physical distancing protocols when not playing, should wear masks arriving and departing the fields.
  • Use hand sanitizer before and after each session.
  • High fives, handshakes, hugs, and any other greeting or celebration that involves contact, are not permitted.
  • Failure to comply with safety protocols may result in a dismissal from any SOCA session.

Guidelines for Coaches

  • Any coach with a temperature of 100.4 or more, or feels sick cannot attend a SOCA session.
  • Any coach who has been in close contact to COVID-19 may not participate until following the Return to Play protocol above.
  • Must wear a mask when within 10 feet of a player.
  • Sanitize hands before and after each session.
  • Ensure any shared equipment is washed or sanitized between uses.

Guidelines for Parents

  • Administer a temperature check to your player before attending a SOCA event. Must keep child at home if they are feeling sick or have a temperature of 100.4 or more.
  • Must practice social distancing if attending matches. All households must maintain a distance of 10 feet when at an event.  Parents should not attend practices and should stay away from the field unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  • If attending a SOCA event all attendees must wear a face covering or mask.
  • Make sure your child has the above-mentioned recommended items.
  • Must notify your team coach if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 or is required to quarantine for a period of time.
  • Help your player arrive on time and exit promptly after each SOCA event to avoid contact with others from earlier or later events.

Field Closings & Inclement Weather

SOCA may cancel SOCA sanctioned activities if weather or field conditions are unfit for play or travel.  Please check the SOCA weather line or front webpage banner before leaving for any match or training.  On weekdays the weather line is updated by 2pm and on weekends by 7:45am.  However, weather events (rain) may develop throughout the day and updates to the field status may occur at any time so check the weather line before leaving for your event to learn of updates.

SOCA Weather Line = 434-817-7246 (434-817-RAIN) or www.socaspot.org

All coaches, captains, team leaders and referees, in all programs, are instructed to comply with any cancellation and field closing notices. Such notices may be issued by either SOCA or the agency responsible for the care of the field. Compliance with cancellation and field closing notices applies to matches as well as training.

When fields are closed anytime during the day, they are then closed for the remainder of the day, until the status is updated by SOCA.  Should a referee deem a field to be unplayable due to isolated weather or field conditions in the area, they may close a field and cancel games as necessary.

Lightning Policy

When clear and distinct thunder is heard, or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen, the thunderstorm is close enough to strike your location with lightning. Suspend play and take shelter immediately.

Thirty-minute rule. Once play has been suspended, wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or flash of lightning is witnessed prior to resuming play.  Any subsequent thunder or lightning after the beginning of the 30-minute count, reset the clock and another 30-minute count should begin.

Referees and Coaches shall work together to determine whether to cancel a match indefinitely or suspend play until the storm clears the area.

***During Summer months, thunderstorms occur in a very isolated manner.  It may not be possible for SOCA to make county wide decisions via the weather line.  In these cases referees are responsible for managing the fields in their immediate area.***

Extreme Heat or Cold

In situations where the temperature is determined to be extreme in either heat or cold, play may be suspended.  SOCA will make every effort to make these decisions on a County or area wide basis whenever possible.  However isolated decisions may be made at individual game sites.  In these situations coaches and referees should make decisions as a group with the safety of the players in mind first.

The measure of adding of one extra hydration break during each half of play should be taken for all matches where conditions are uncomfortably warm or teams are short on substitutions.  In these cases, pregame and halftime periods may need to be adjusted to maintain the daily match schedule for that field location.  Referees, coaches, and other team officials should work together and agree on the addition of these breaks before the start of play.

Goal Safety

Goals or nets are never to be climbed or hung on.  All goals in use for a practice or game should always be anchored or counter weighted.  If a goal is moved or reset during a training session, please ensure the proper anchors are put back in place.

Referees and coaches should take the time on game day to make sure goals are adequately anchored to the ground before play begins.

Player Equipment & Jewelry

It will be at the referee’s discretion to determine what is dangerous at the start of each game and before players enter the field.

All players must wear shin guards. Children will not be permitted to play if they are wearing anything dangerous to themselves or to other players.  This includes jewelry, casts (without appropriate padding), or joint supports and braces with exposed metal or hard plastic.

No earrings, bracelets, or necklaces will be permitted.  All hair berets or other hard pieces of jewelry should be removed before play begins.  PLAYERS  MAY NOT COVER EARRINGS WITH TAPE, EARRINGS MUST BE REMOVED TO PLAY.  Please plan accordingly.

Cleats with a prominent front toe cleat are not permitted (Baseball and Football cleats).  Turf or flat sole shoes may be worn but are not recommended for natural grass play.

Children with braces on their teeth are encouraged to wear a mouthpiece during play.

Players are allowed to participate while wearing a hard cast or brace as long as they meet the following requirements:
* The player has been cleared by a medical professional to participate fully in the activity. (Obtain a note from your doctor in case there are any concerns.)
* The cast or hard material is properly padded and covered.  This is recommended to be at least an inch of padded material (Foam padding, bubble wrap, other soft padded materials).  The ultimate decision on player participation is the match referee or official who must inspect the area in question.

Concussion Policy

Youth Concussion Management Plan

What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury caused from a violent jolt, bump or blow to the head or body that is results in a temporary disruption of normal brain function. They can range from minor to major, but all classify as a brain injury. A concussion can cause a variety of symptoms, many not resulting in a loss of consciousness. There are a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional signs and symptoms of a concussion, some being subtle and
difficulty to fully recognize while others can be obvious and distinct.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Headache
Blurry or Double Vision
Feeling “foggy” Irritability Excessive
Drowsiness
Nausea or Vomiting
Fatigue or Feeling Slowed Down
Nervousness
Sleeping more than normal
Dizziness
Sensitivity to light
Difficulty remembering
More emotional
Sleeping less than usual
Instability
Numbness/tingling in extremities
Difficulty concentrating
Depression
Trouble falling asleep
MAKE SURE TO REPORT ALL SIGNS/SYMPTOMS TO YOUR ATHLETIC TRAINER, LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL or PARENT!

Definitions:
Concussion: A brain injury that is characterized by an onset of impairment of cognitive and/or physical functioning and is caused by direct or indirect traumatic forces to the head. A concussion can occur with or without a loss of consciousness.  Proper management is essential to the immediate safety and long‐term future of the injured individual. (Consensus statement on concussion in sport)

Second Impact Syndrome: A condition in which a second concussion is sustained before a first concussion has properly healed. This causes rapid and severe brain swelling and often has catastrophic results. (CDC)

Licensed Health Care Professional: A physician, physician assistant, osteopath, or certified athletic trainer licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine; a neuropsychologist licensed by the Board of Psychology; or a nurse practitioner licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. (BOE)

Youth Athlete: Any soccer player in SOCA’s youth soccer programs.

ATC: Certified Athletic Trainer.

Concussion Assessment and Management
1. NO youth athlete with a concussion or with signs/symptoms of a concussion should continue to play or return to a game after sustaining a concussion. They must be removed from activity/participation and be evaluated. A youth athlete diagnosed/presents/suspected of a concussion shall NOT return to competition/activity that same day. They will undergo the concussion management plan outlined in this policy. A youth athlete may only return to participation when asymptomatic at rest, with exertion, or when cleared by a licensed health care professional.
2. SOCA encourages every youth athlete ages 10 and up to attain a baseline neurocognitive assessment prior to the start of the season and to be repeated periodically over the course of their career. The baseline assessment may be obtained from physicians and other health care providers. SOCA maintains a list of providers of baseline assessments. After an injury is sustained a post‐injury assessment can be performed to better assist licensed health care professionals in making appropriate return to play decisions.
3. All parents and guardians of youth athletes and all volunteer coaches shall annually receive information on the nature and risk of concussions, criteria for removal and return to play, and risks of not reporting the injury and continuing to play. All parents, guardians and volunteer coaches shall certify that they have received this information. The certifications shall be maintained for at least 7 years.
4. All paid coaches and ATCs are required to complete annual concussion training through Center of Disease Control (CDC) Head’s Up to Youth Sports: Online Training. (Link: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/coach.html)
5. When a youth athlete sustains a concussion or a concussion is suspected by the coach or licensed health care professional of having a concussion, the management plan below will be followed:
If an ATC is on‐site:
1. The youth athlete will be evaluated by an ATC with the SCAT 3 at the time of the injury.
i. If the youth athlete is cleared through the SCAT 3 they may return to play and it is not required that the ATC proceed to Step 2 and the following steps.
ii. If the youth athlete is not cleared to play then the ATC shall follow
appropriate guidelines for referral and the ATC will proceed to the
following steps beginning with step No. 2.
2. The ATC will notify the youth athlete’s parent/guardian and provide at
home care instructions.
3. The parent/guardian should provide transportation home. The youth
athlete should not be allowed to drive themselves home.
4. If a parent/guardian cannot be reached, the ATC should ensure the youth athlete is in the care of a responsible adult who is capable of monitoring the youth athlete and who understands the home instructions. Efforts to contact the parent/guardian should continue.
5. The ATC should notify appropriate personnel of the youth athlete’s
condition, including but not limited to the youth athlete’s coaches.
6. Appropriate documentation of the youth athlete’s injury should be
maintained by the ATC.
7. If seen by a physician, youth athletes must bring written documentation of medical clearance from the licensed health care professional before returning to play.
8. The youth athlete must have no symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours
prior to considering medical clearance to return to play.
9. Unless otherwise directed by a licensed health care professional, all
youth athletes must follow the Gradual Return to Play Protocol for a
minimum of 5 days prior to returning to full participation.
10. If the youth athlete develops any signs or symptoms during the Gradual Return to Play Protocol, after they have rested for 24 hours and tried a second time to progress, they must be re‐evaluated by a licensed health care professional with specialty training in concussion diagnosis and management.
If an ATC is not present or on‐site:
If the ATC is NOT ON‐SITE/PRESENT at the time of suspected head injury, the coach is responsible for removing the youth athlete from the field of play and will notify the youth athlete’s parent/guardian. Any youth athlete with a suspected concussion due to exhibiting symptoms of a concussion should not return to play that day nor until:
1. Evaluated by an appropriate licensed health care professional.
2. Written clearance has been received from such licensed health care
professional.
3. The youth athlete must have no symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours
prior to considering medical clearance to return to play.
4. Unless otherwise directed by a licensed health care professional, all
youth athletes must follow the Gradual Return to Play Protocol for a
minimum of 5 days prior to returning to full participation.
5. If the youth athlete develops any signs or symptoms during the Gradual Return to Play Protocol, after they have rested for 24 hours and tried a second time to progress, they must be re‐evaluated by a health care professional with specialty training in concussion diagnosis and
management.
*REMEMBER: When in doubt, sit out

Appendix A
Concussion Gradual Return to Play Protocol
Many risks are involved with premature return to play while symptomatic:
1. Greater risk for a second concussion due to a lower concussion threshold
2. Second impact syndrome (abnormal brain blood flow that can result in
death)
3. Exacerbation of any current symptoms
4. Increasing the risk of injury due to alteration in balance
Unless otherwise directed by a licensed health care professional, once a youth athlete is symptom‐free at rest for 24 hours, and has a signed release by the treating clinician or a
licensed health care professional, he/she may begin the return to play progression below:
Stage of Rehabilitation Functional Exercise
Day 1: No Activity Physical and mental rest until asymptomatic
Day 2: Light physical exertion May walk or walk/jog around the field for 20‐30 minutes.
Day 3: Moderate levels of physical exertion May participate in individual agility and shooting drills, no team drill participation.
Day 4: Non‐contact sport specific drills May participate in team drills with no scrimmage or game type play.
Day 5: Full contact practice May participate in full practice.
Day 6: Return to full normal game play
Each step should take 24 hours. If any post‐concussion symptoms present while in the return to play progression, the student should drop back to the previous ASYMPTOMATIC level and try to progress again after a further 24‐hour period of rest has passed.
During the Gradual Return to Play Protocol, youth athletes may attend games, practices and other activities as long as they do not participate athletically in such activities.

Parent and Guardian Concussion Information
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury which results in a temporary disruption of normal brain function.  A concussion can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head can be serious. An athlete does not have to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion. A concussion may cause multiple symptoms. Many symptoms appear immediately following the injury, while others may develop over the next several days or weeks.
The symptoms may be subtle and are often difficult to fully recognize.

What should I do in the first 24‐48 hours?
 Your athlete should not be left alone. Check on him/her regularly throughout the night.  However, it is okay to let them sleep. You only need to wake them up if you are concerned about their breathing or how they are sleeping.
 Your athlete should not drive while they are still having symptoms.
 Check with your doctor before giving any prescribed pain medications.
 It is OK to use an ice pack on the head and neck for comfort.
When should I take my child to the doctor?
All athletes who sustain a concussion need to be evaluated by a licensed health care professional who is familiar with sports concussion diagnosis and management. You should call their physician and explain what has happened. A follow‐up appointment should be scheduled with the primary care doctor or a sports concussion specialist if directed.
If any of your athlete’s signs or symptoms worsen, then proceed IMMEDIATELY to the nearest emergency medical facility.
Additional symptoms to watch for that would require IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION includes:
o Headaches that worsen
o Very drowsy
o Cannot be awakened
o Cannot recognize people or places
o Seizures
o Repeated vomiting
o Increasing confusion
o Neck pain
o Slurred speech
o Weakness/numbness in arms/legs
o Unusual behavior changes
o Significant irritability
o Less responsive than usual

How can a concussion affect school work?
Following a concussion, many athletes will have difficulty in school. These problems may last for days or months and often include difficulties with short‐ and long‐term memory, concentration, and organization.
In many cases it is best to lessen the athlete’s class load early on after the injury. This may include staying home from school for a few days then a lightened schedule for a few additional days. It is possible that a longer period of time may be needed. Decreasing the stress on the brain early on after a concussion may lessen symptoms and shorten recovery time. In general, RETURN TO LEARN happens before RETURN TO
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
When can an athlete return to play following a concussion?
NO athlete should return to play or practice on that same day as the injury. Studies have shown that a young brain does not recover quickly enough for a athlete to return to activity in such a short time. Your athlete should not participate in any high‐risk activities which may lead to head injury. This includes physical education class, recess, and riding a bike or skateboard until they have been cleared to do so by a licensed health care professional.
Once an athlete has been symptom‐free of any new symptoms following the concussion for a minimum of 24 hours and is cleared to return to physical activity by a licensed health professional (with knowledge of care for sports concussions) he or she may proceed with activity in a supervised, step‐by‐step fashion, to allow the brain to readjust
to exertion. This should occur over a minimum of five (5) days. (See Gradual Return to Play Protocol)
Why is it so important that an athlete not return to play until they have completely recovered from a concussion?
A second concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can slow recovery or increase the chances of long‐term problems. In rare cases brain swelling can result, leading to permanent brain damage or even death. This is known as second impact syndrome.
What is the best treatment to help my athlete recover more quickly from a concussion?
The best treatment for a concussion is rest, both physically and mentally. There are no medications that can speed the recovery from a concussion. Exposure to loud noises, bright lights, computers, video games, television, and phones (including text messages) may worsen the symptoms of a concussion. You should allow your athlete to rest as
much as possible in the days following the injury. As the symptoms decrease, you can allow increased use of electronic devices. If symptoms worsen after increasing use, access must again be limited.
How long do the symptoms of a concussion typically last?
The symptoms of a concussion will usually go away within one week to 10 days of the initial injury. In some cases, symptoms may last for several weeks or even months.
Is a CT scan or MRI needed to diagnose a concussion?
Diagnostic testing, including CT and MRI scans are rarely needed following a concussion.  While these are helpful in identifying life‐threatening brain injuries, they are not  normally utilized by athletes with mild to severe concussions. A concussion is diagnosed based on the athlete’s description of the injury or event and the licensed health care
provider’s physical examination.
When should the athlete see a sports concussion specialist?
Any athlete who has had significant or recurrent head injuries or whose symptoms persist beyond 10 days may benefit from an evaluation completed by a pediatric sports concussion specialist. Your child’s physician may also recommend a specialty evaluation if they have any concerns or need further assistance with the athlete’s concussion
management. Neuropsychological testing, which should be part of the evaluation when possible, can be helpful to assist with return to academic and physical activity, (2010 AAP Sport‐Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents).

Some of this information has been adapted from the CDC’s “Head’s Up: Concussion in HighSchool Sports” and the NFHS’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. Please go to www.cdc.gov
for more information.

Concussion FAQ's

SOCA Concussion Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a concussion? A concussion is a brain injury resulting from a blunt force to the head or body. Symptoms of a concussion include confusion, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, poor attention span, difficulty with concentration, rapid mood swings, memory loss of before or after injury, among many others.
  2. How can I get a concussion? In soccer, concussion usually results from a direct impact of the head or body with another object, such as another player’s head or other body part, the ground, or the goal.
  3. How do I know if I have had a concussion? Symptoms including headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty with recent memory. However, these symptoms may also indicate a more serious head injury. A healthcare provider must conduct an evaluation to determine the appropriate diagnosis.
  4. What should I do if I have a concussion or think I have had a concussion? First of all, do not panic; the vast majority of players diagnosed with a concussion fully recover with no residual effects. Secondly, communicate with your coach, parent/guardian, and athletic trainer. Not telling your coach, parent/guardian or athletic trainer places you, the player, at risk of a poor recovery and further injury.
  5. I have been diagnosed with a concussion, now what? If you have been diagnosed with a concussion, you will need to be reevaluated by a health care provider prior to returning to play. After being cleared to return to play, you should progressively increase the length and intensity of your activities; do not restart at full intensity. If any symptoms of your concussion come back, stop the activity, and communicate with your coach and parent to arrange the appropriate medical care.
  6. Now that I have had a concussion, can I still play soccer? YES, but you will need to have a period of rest to allow your brain to recover. Returning too early to practice or play will delay your recovery and place you at risk of longer term problems.
  7. Do concussions lead to long-term problems with memory or behavior? In certain, very rare cases, YES. Yet, for the majority of cases in which athletes communicate with their coach, parent/guardian and health care provider and follow their instructions, a full recovery is achieved with no lasting problems or behaviors. Continued participation in activities will lead to increased symptoms, a longer recovery and place you at risk for additional head injuries which may result in long-lasting problems.
  8. If I do have a concussion, what do I need to do to return to play if my parent/guardian, coach, trainer, or doctor thinks I have a concussion? If you think you have a concussion, tell your coach, your athletic trainer, and your parent/guardian. Before returning to practice or play, you must be symptom-free and you will need a note from a healthcare professional stating that you can return to play. Following these steps will assist you in having a good outcome following a concussion…and insure your ability to continue play soccer and other sports.

Heading and Game Play Limitations

No heading is allowed in matches U11 matches and below.

Whenever the ball strikes a player in the head, play is stopped. The proper restart depends upon whether the player deliberately played the ball with his or her head. If deliberate, the proper restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team. If this occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the end line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If the play by the head is deemed inadvertent, then the proper restart is a dropped ball.

In these age groups, there will be no Goalkeeper punting or drop-kicking of the ball during play. Goalkeepers may either distribute the ball with their hands or play the ball from the ground as a field player.

When a goalkeeper gains possession of the ball, all opposing players shall retreat behind an invisible build out line located roughly at the top of the center circle on the half of the field where the ball is. Players may advance past this invisible restraining line once the ball is initially played.

The same build out line shall be used for opposing players on all goal kicks.

Goakeepers who have the ball in hand may appeal to the referee to move defenders back to the invisible build out line prior to restarting the play. However, they may also restart the play quickly and don’t need to wait for players to retreat if they don’t want to. As soon as the ball is released from the goalkeepers hands, even to drop the ball to their feet, it is considered live and defenders may advance.

If a ball is passed back to a goalkeeper and they are playing it with their feet, play is still live and defenders may defend as normal. Only when a goalkeeper has the ball in hand or in the case of a goal kick must defenders retreat to the top of the center circle.