Health and Safety

Health & Safety of Players and Volunteers

AYSO cares about the health and safety of its players and volunteers. Our region has a Child & Volunteer Protection Advocate, and a Safety Director. This page contains resources devoted to health and safety.

Some of the information on this page is available elsewhere on this site, but we would like you to be able to find all of these resources in one place. We will be adding other pages as we develop this latest addition to our site.

Once approved as a coach, an assistant coach, a team administrator or a referee, you need to visit AYSO's national online registration program, eAYSO, and "pre-register" as a volunteer. DO NOT USE eAYSO TO REGISTER A PLAYER.The eAYSO pre-registration form for volunteers is required by child protection policies implemented by AYSO and many other youth sports organizations.


CONCUSSIONS

The AYSO Safe Haven and Safety Director programs have been promoting since 2009 the recommendations provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Heads Up program for concussion awareness and safety. Since then, 35 states plus the District of Columbia have passed concussion legislation, most of which came onto the books within the last year. Other states have similar laws pending.

Also, on September 23, 2016, the State of California enacted AB 2007, with mandatory procedures and policies for youth sports organizations regarding concussions and head injuries. A copy of the new law (including the Legislative Counsel's Digest) can be found here.

In response to increasing concerns about the potential risks associated with concussions and to these new state laws, the AYSO National Board of Directors launched a Concussion Task Force to develop recommendations for AYSO Regions and families. The NBOD has approved its recommendations:

  • Use of the AYSO/CDC Concussion Information Sheet to inform all parents and players about the signs and symptoms of concussion and the associated risks. Find the Information Sheet at: http://www.ayso.org/resources/safety.aspx
  • Mandate ALL coaches, referees, and Section, Area and Region Board Members to take the CDC’s free online Concussion Awareness Training at: AYSO University.
  • Any player suspected by the coach, referee or parent to have a concussion must be removed from further participation for at least the remainder of the day, and
  • Parents should be encouraged to seek professional medical treatment at the time of injury and secure medical clearance before being allowed to return to play. In all cases, AYSO will require the parent to sign a new Participation Release Form which includes a concussion waiver confirming that the player has been given the appropriate clearance to return to play.

In the states with concussion legislation that impacts AYSO’s programs, Regions must comply with the state law requirements. Those requirements typically include obtaining and saving signed AYSO/CDC Information Sheets, requiring the CDC Concussion Awareness training for coaches and other “officials” specified in the law, and obtaining a participation release form signed by a medical professional. These concussion laws impacting AYSO programs are in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington. State legislation varies slightly from state to state and additional information is being provided for those with AYSO programs impacted by concussion laws. In the meantime don’t hesitate to contact the Safe Haven office at 800-872-2976 for further clarification.

Here are a few of the helpful Steps/Measures to remember relating to concussion awareness and safety issues:

  • In Regions impacted by the concussion laws, signed copies of the AYSO/CDC Concussion Information Sheets must be collected and stored by the Region. (Regions may want to consider distributing the Information Sheets and collecting them with the registration forms.)
  • Coaches are required to complete an AYSO Incident Report whenever a concussion has been suspected and turn it into the Safety Director.
  • The Safety Director must forward a copy of the AYSO Incident Report to insurance@ayso.org and make sure the injured player’s parents are informed about AYSO’s Soccer Accident Insurance.
  • Coaches must require a signed Participation Release Form from the parent/guardian before a player having a concussion or suspected of having a concussion is allowed to return to play. Parents should always be encouraged to seek appropriate medical care and medical clearance. In designated states, the signed Medical Release is also mandatory before return to play.
  • The signed Participation Release and any Medical Release must be given to the Safety Director and forwarded to insurance@ayso.org.

Regarding headgear, here is an extract from a statement on the US Soccer Federation's website: "While players should be given the option of using headgear, it is not permissible for any USSF member or affiliate to require use of headgear by players. USSF Bylaw 104 states that FIFA Laws of the Game shall apply to soccer games that occur under the purview of USSF. FIFA Laws of the Game, Law 4, provides a specific list of mandatory equipment (including jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shin guards). Headgear is not on this list, and it is not within the authority of USSF’s members to amend the Laws of the Game in this way.

"It is important to point out that there is much to learn about headgear. A recent study sponsored by FIFA’s sports medicine committee concluded that headgear provides no measurable benefit in head-to-ball impacts, but does provide 'measurable benefit' in subconcussive head-to-head impacts. However, there are still many unanswered questions – most importantly, the extent to which this sort of headgear diminishes the risk of concussions, if at all. USSF’s Sports Medicine Committee continues to monitor the available literature and push for further research on such questions as whether decreasing impact force translates into decreasing concussions and whether use of headgear creates a false sense of security among players or causes them to play more aggressively."

It should also be note that while we cannot mandate the use of headgear, the USSF's Manager of Referee Development and Education stated in 2003 that "Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted."


OTHER HEALTH RELATED TOPICS

  • Do you need to stretch? The conventional wisdom has always been that once children are 10 or more, they need to stretch before exercise. But a lot of evidence now seems to suggest that stretching before engaging in most sports is not particularly beneficial and may actually be harmful. What seems to be more useful is warming up. We aren't sports medicine experts here at Region 76, but we invite you to check out reputable sources of information.
  • Good, good, good, good hydrations. - that means getting liquid into the body before, during and after games. Key recommendation:
    "As one of the best means to preventing heat illness, The U.S. Soccer Federation recommends parents and coaches ensure children are well hydrated before practice and games. During activity, young athletes should drink on a schedule; because thirst is not an accurate indicator of fluid needs, athletes should drink before they become thirsty. The Federation plans to incorporate the Heat Illness and Hydration Guidelines into its already existing coaches’ curriculum, reaching thousands of youth soccer coaches across the country."
  • Soccer Accident Insurance (SAI). AYSO National provides a supplemental insurance policy for registered players and registered volunteers that covers medical expenses related to on field injuries that are not covered under your normal medical insurance coverage. The policy is a $200.00 deductible policy that covers the injuries after your insurance has already paid. This policy is free - players and volunteers are automatically covered when they register.

It is the responsibility of the person making the claim to submit the Soccer Insurance Claim Form within 90 days of the injury, even if your insurance company has not paid yet, otherwise the claim will be denied. Here is a link to the AYSO National page with links to the SAI insurance policy as well as the claim form. The form must be filled out and signed by either the coach or an AYSO official and signed by the safety director, Scott Karlan.

If there are any questions please e-mail Scott Karlan or call the AYSO number at 310-859-9663.

Through the national office of AYSO, Region 76 also has liability insurance, which we provide to the City and the School District.

Good mental health is important too. Start by learning to be a better person on the sidelines, whether as a coach or a parent or other supporter.