Stretching, warm-ups and cool downs.
Stretching will reduce the risk of strains and sprains. Stretching is particularly critical for soccer players between the ages of 10 and 13 who have less natural flexibility because their bones are growing faster than their muscles. Make sure your child stretches his groin, hip, hamstrings, Achilles tendon, back, shoulders and quadriceps. Warm-ups and cool downs are very important as well to help reduce injuries. Stretches, warm-ups and cool downs should be a part of every practice session and game.
Going to practice is critical.
Practice is where players’ bodies get used to the movements used in soccer. In practice these movements are usually done at a slower pace and gradually work up to game day speed, giving each player an opportunity to learn and master the movement or skill.
Maintain the field.
Poor field conditions might not immediately come to mind when you think about preventing injuries, but don’t leave it to just the referee to check the field for holes, puddles, broken glass, stones or other debris. Work with your Team Parent to set up a field detail that includes a parent checking the field prior to games and practices.
Shinguards are mandatory for every AYSO player in all practices and games. Shinguards decrease the force to the tibia, the bone in front of the leg, and help protect it from being bruised or even broken.
Anchor the goal posts.
There is something about a goal just standing there that makes kids want to climb it, so make sure all your goals are anchored securely. Check goals before each game. Talk to your team about climbing and hanging from the goal posts, so they understand the danger of playing on the goal. Every year, children are badly hurt and even killed from goals tipping over on them. Free goal safety labels are available from Fold-A-Goal.
Prepare for medical emergencies.
A properly stocked first-aid kit (available through AYSOStore.com) should be available at all soccer practices and games. Through Safe Haven™, AYSO coaches are provided with first-aid information, but having a list of parents who are also trained and certified in both first aid and CPR will be helpful in the event something happens.