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.

  • 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 often to learn of updates.

    SOCA Weather Line = 434-817-7246 (434-817-RAIN)

    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.

    SOCA utilizes fields throughout a wide geographic area from Staunton and western Augusta County to eastern Albemarle County.  If a referee deems a field to be unplayable due to isolated weather conditions in their 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 do it’s best to make these decisions on a County wide basis when 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.

  • 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 (with appropriate padding), or joint supports and braces.

    No earrings, bracelets, or necklaces will be permitted.  All hair berets or other hard pieces of jewelry should be removed before play begins.  NO YOU CANNOT COVER YOUR EARS WITH TAPE, YOUR EARRINGS MUST COME OUT TO PLAY.

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

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 often to learn of updates.

SOCA Weather Line = 434-817-7246 (434-817-RAIN)

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.

SOCA utilizes fields throughout a wide geographic area from Staunton and western Augusta County to eastern Albemarle County.  If a referee deems a field to be unplayable due to isolated weather conditions in their 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 do it’s best to make these decisions on a County wide basis when 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.

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 (with appropriate padding), or joint supports and braces.

No earrings, bracelets, or necklaces will be permitted.  All hair berets or other hard pieces of jewelry should be removed before play begins.  NO YOU CANNOT COVER YOUR EARS WITH TAPE, YOUR EARRINGS MUST COME OUT TO PLAY.

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.

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.