Concussion Information


A main component of Recognize to Recover* is focused on head injuries, including concussions. U.S. Soccer has taken a lead in education, research and proposing rule changes to improve player safety for several years. For the most up-to-date guideline information please visit

U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative 2016 

In December of 2015, U.S. Soccer unveiled the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative that provides information guidelines that have been implemented since January of 2016.  

The elements contained in the initiative are 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 

For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions, which should help clarify questions regarding the new initiatives.

Taken from the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative above:

Taken from the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative above:

Remove, Evaluate and Rest are key steps to treating a concussion or other head injury in soccer. When a concussion is identified quickly, it prevents the injury from getting worse, and prevents the player from staying off the field for even longer.

Remove (Game or League Officials)
An athlete who experiences a blow to the head or body should immediately be removed for play and should not return to play until he/she is evaluated. When in doubt, the athlete should sit out.

Evaluate (Parents)
Have a health care professional evaluate the athlete immediately. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself.

Rest (Parents)
Never rush a return to play. A return to play should only occur after an athlete has been cleared by a medical professional. If you rush the return, a player is at significantly higher risk for more problems in the future.


Additional Resources:

USSF-CDC A Fact Sheet for Parents

Recognize To Recover Concussion Initiative Video

Concussions - Dr Steve Horwitz, CEO TeamSafe

North Texas State Soccer - Concussion Awareness Training

*RECOGNIZE to RECOVER is U.S. Soccer’s comprehensive player health and safety program aimed at promoting safe play and reducing injuries in soccer players of all ages.  View the video at the link above.

The program, which was developed with the help of medical experts, will provide coaches, players, parents and referees with information, guidance and additional educational materials to improve the prevention and management of injuries.

Visit for the most up-to-date program information.