13 Feb 2016: US Soccer just released the following information on their Concussion initiative.  While this communication does not provide all the details that will be needed to fully understand how heading will be eliminated for children 10 and under (enforced up to the U11 division), it is a good start as it does indicate that the restart will be an indirect free kick (IFK) to the opposing team from the spot of the offense.  


U.S. Soccer
As part of U.S. Soccer’s Player Safety Campaign, U.S. Soccer unveiled the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative that provides guidelines that have been implemented since January of 2016.

The information contained in the initiative is intended to give U.S. Soccer Organization Members, as well as players, parents, team/club staff and coaches and referees, guidance and direction when dealing with head injuries and potential head injuries during soccer participation.

Included in the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative are specific changes to rules on substitutions and heading for certain age groups. Those changes included:

  • Modify substitution rules to allow players who may have suffered a concussion during games to be evaluated without penalty
  • Eliminating heading for children 10 and under
    • Please note that U11 is listed in the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative document because U11 players can be 10 years old at the beginning of the season
  • Limiting the amount of heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13

In addition to the safety initiatives, the following modified rule should be implemented:

  • When a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense.  If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If a player does not deliberately head the ball, then play should continue.

We still have not heard anything official about the reduction in team size or the changes to field dimensions for the younger divisions.  When we get anything we will pass it along.