- the average force of a soccer ball header was similar to the force exerted by punches from amateur boxers (yikes!)
- there was little difference with or without headgear (yikes again!)
- with one type of headgear, evidence actually showed greater force from a soccer ball than without headgear
- balls inflated at a higher pressure hit the head with even greater acceleration, regardless of the speed at which the ball was kicked
- larger balls exerted greater pressure
So what does all this mean?
Athletes lawyer and helmet safety advocate Doug Landau says that soccer players, particularly youth, must learn proper technique and use appropriately-sized equipment.
Smaller balls, less inflated are safer. Youth players should be using a size 4 or smaller ball. Of particular note, care should be taken not to allow the ball to absorb water. A water-logged ball is heavier and will inflict greater force. Some newer balls are coated with a substance that prohibits water absorption, but older, leather balls are not.
“Safety first”, says Landau. “And of course, if you or your child does “head” the ball in soccer (or sustain any blow to the head for that matter), and you experience any symptom of concussion — headache, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue, loss of consciousness, etc. — immediately stop playing and seek medical attention.”
Landau is a frequent speaker about helmet safety and the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and has represented victims of TBI. He welcomes your email or call if you have any questions or need more information (703-796-9555).