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  • Webinar Recap: Dr. George Chiampas With U.S. Soccer
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Webinar Recap: Dr. George Chiampas With U.S. Soccer

Last week, we hosted a webinar with Dr. George Chiampas, the Chief Medical Officer of U.S. Soccer. Thank you to all that attended! If you missed it, here is a clip from the discussion where we addressed the evolution of concussion safety.

You can access the full hour-long Webinar on our education platform, the SoccerParentResourceCenter.com.

In the interview we discussed:

  • Concussion safety
  • ACL Prevention
  • Emerging ACL research for female athletes
  • Heat and Cold Standards for Participation and Player Safety
  • Lower leg injuries common in soccer
  • The importance of a properly fitting shoe!
  • And more.

Dr. Chiampas will return for another interview, this one related to mental heath considerations for athletes and resources U.S. Soccer has related to Mental Health.

U.S. Soccer has an important website available for parents, coaches and players called Recognize to Recover. We encourage everyone to check out Recognize to Recover and remember it as a resource when have questions related to the health and safety of players.

One thing that stood out to me as I was talking with Dr. Chiampas was the fact that U.S. Soccer has led the way globally when it comes to player safety.  You'll hear that narrative come out in the clip below!  Enjoy.


The Evolution of Concussion Safety - How U.S. Soccer Has Led The Way


TRANSCRIPT:

Skye:

Where are we when it comes to concussion awareness and even statistics related to the amount of concussions we're seeing? Are we seeing any data that supports the training that's been happening?


Dr. Chiampas:
Yeah. Well, let me start with the last point. The data piece is always difficult. It's difficult to do research, one, on youth. In the United States, we have very strict research guidelines and IRBs, but I'll come back to that because I think we're excited about where we're at at U.S. Soccer. To go back to about 10, 11 years ago, and I'm sure Anthony will also weigh in on this, is we were at a point in the game where the narrative was playing soccer is dangerous. Playing soccer can lead to some horrific things. But I think we all would like to agree that being physically active, having the social and physical interactions and being a part of a team are also equally important. And living a healthy lifestyle is also important. About 12 years ago, we sat down at U.S. Soccer, and mind you, we operate under umbrella of FIFA. 

We're a national governing body and right, wrong and different, and I'm happy to have these conversations. At that time, our CEO said, "We need to look at this and we need to be able to be bold and make a decision." And so we sat down with ... I brought in about eight to 10 different experts from pediatricians to researchers to experts in that space and we walked through. We also brought in our coaching and technical side, and we sat down and said, you know what, at these young ages, what's the best thing for them? And we also looked at what science existed. And at that time, and even to today, when you talk about heading, purposeful heading doesn't necessarily lead to concussions. Now, there's the discussion about subconcussive blows and all those things, and we'll talk about that. But what we recognized then was that about 60 to 70% of concussions occur in what we call in act of heading. Meaning two people going up, they go head to head, elbow to head, head to ground, so on and so forth, head to chest, and 60 to 70% of those concussions occur in that activity. 

Well, then we turned around and said, do we really think that a 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-year-old and how the brain develops, is this really what's needed in our game? Is it betterto have the ball at the feet? Can we avoid concussions? Can we make sure that a child that has a concussion playing the game of soccer at 10 quits the game doesn't find love in participating in soccer? So without going into even more detail, that's where we made a decision outside of FIFA to say, we are going to implement these heading restrictions. That was a pivotal moment for our game. And when I say our game, I mean around the world. What you saw then was I received direct criticism from FIFA. We received direct criticism from coaches all over the world of why are we making this decision? It's unscientific. Which we didn't believe it was. And what you've seen as most recently as a couple years ago is the Scottish FA and the (English) FA and others now implementing the same thing.


Skye:
Yeah. I love it. I do remember when those guidelines came out and there was a lot of pushback on it, but it makes sense. It also makes sense from a player development standpoint because the ball's on the ground and now the kids are interacting more the ball. The goalkeeper's not punting it every single time in U8. We're working and the players are interacting with the ball more in a safer environment.


Dr. Chiampas:
And credit to the clubs and the coaches. We sent out surveys once we did it, and the vast majority, over 90, 95% ... Now mind you, we can't mandate, but we make recommendations. But when the Federation makes a recommendation, it's essentially that. But credit to the clubs and the coaches, because the vast majority adopted it. It was important for us to get in front of parents for the same reasons we talked about earlier because we want all of our stakeholders to change that culture. And I think we, for the most part, did a good job.


Skye:
Yeah, absolutely.


Anthony:
Even just today, the English FA has announced that over the next three years, they're going to remove heading from under-11 football and younger players. So I think this is paramount is that we have leaders in the game who are willing to challenge our preconceived notions about what the game looks like because this idea that the game can't evolve is wrong. I mean, if you go back to the early '90s, Skye and I were both goalkeepers, the back pass law wasn't part of the game. So the game is constantly changing, it's constantly evolving, and we just need to make sure that it's for the betterment of our players and the game as a whole.

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    Skye Eddy


    Founder, SoccerParenting.com
    Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.

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