Soccer is the sport of choice for Canadian boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 14. For many years it has ranked as the No. 1 sport activity for children engaging regularly in sport.
- Match young soccer players according to their level of physical development and place young girls and young boys on separate teams.
- Learn the proper technique of heading a soccer ball. The age at which heading can safely be introduced remains controversial. An experienced coach is best suited to judge when to introduce heading in youth soccer. Parachute recommends not permitting heading until age 10 to 12 years.
- Use plastic coated balls. Replace once their water-resistant qualities are lost. The use of smaller balls in youth soccer is strongly recommended.
- Keep the playing surface well maintained. Fill holes in the field and reseed bare spots.
- Wear a mouth guard as they protect from dentoalveolar injuries.
- Shin guards should be compulsory at soccer games and practice sessions. They should have sufficient shock-absorption capacity and cover a large area of the lower leg.
- Wear shoes with moulded cleats or ribbed soles. Shoes with screw-in cleats should be used when traction is required, such as on a wet field with high grass.
- Adequately pad all goalposts and secure them to the ground. When not in use, dismantle portable goalposts, remove and tie up, or secure to a permanent structure.
- Consider wearing protective eyewear. We recommend eyewear made of polycarbonate lenses.
- Warm-up, stretch, and cool-down before and after games and practices. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends warming up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling, running or walking in place for three to five minutes. This should then be followed by slow and gentle stretching, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
- Players must undergo complete rehabilitation before returning to play after an injury. Taping and bracing may be used to help prevent re-injuries of the ankle.
- Strictly enforce existing rules to prevent aggressive behaviour and infractions. Parents, coaches, and soccer organizations should work together to encourage sportsmanship and fair play.
- Personnel knowledgeable in first aid should be present at all sporting events, and appropriate planning for possible emergency situations must be in place.