Allowable Contact

"Between the Lines" is a column written for the HSA newsletter by Stu Gentry, a long time member of Horsham Soccer, coach and referee. This article originally appeared in the HSA newsletter 9/02.Last month we talked about the so-called Law 18, which admonishes the referee to use common sense and refrain from calling "trifling" fouls that have no effect on the game. Unfortunately, what is "trifling" to one person is "major mayhem" to another.This leads to a wealth of misunderstanding on the pitch. To help with the distinction, start by purging the myth that soccer is a non-contact sport. Basketball may be non-contact (although ask anyone defending Shaq about this), but the laws of soccer explicitly allow for contact. A "fair challenge" is shoulder-to-shoulder contact - within playing distance of the ball - with the intent to play the ball. The player with the ball does not receive any special protection. What do I look for as a ref? Arms and bodies knocking together is one thing, but I will blow the whistle when I see arms pushing off up at shoulder level or when someone drops a shoulder to intentionally block the other player away. A player also has a right to the space she already occupies (you can’t run through her) but no special right to the space she wants to move to. Sound easy? What about Under-8’s where everyone is jostling and kicking? If the ref called everything no one would ever play. What about U-12’s when players should be more in control? What about U-18’s where play with the hands is the expected norm? Each of these must be called differently. The key is that the ref must be sensitive to the individual game and how the players want to play it. The challenge is when one team is a finesse team and the other is a muscle (i.e. less skilled) team. That is when the ref must decide early on what his threshold is going to be for that game, and then keep it consistent.

Player Equipment

It is mandatory that all players wear shin guards and cleats during each practice and game. In the event, that a player does not have their shin guards or cleats they will not be permitted to participate in a practice or in a game.

Jewlry and/or accessories may be asked to be removed at the discretion of a referee or coach. This could include wearing rigid/plastic hair bands. Also hard casts are not permitted during a practice or game.

Players that require eyewear, including sunglasses, will need to acquire sports approved googles that can be fitted to a player’s head snugly. Non-sports approved eye glasses are not permitted during a practice or game for the safety of the soccer player and other players on the field.

It is encouraged that players contact their dentist or orthodontist about wearing mouth guards during each practice and game.

The safety of a player and their equipment/items worn is at a referee’s discretion. A referee’s decision will be final for any given game. While it is prefered that a referee render their decision before the start of game during player inspection, a referee has the right to make a decision including changing their decision about a player's safter or their equipment at any point during a game.

Goal Safety

Soccer goals are large pieces of equipment which can be tipped over by wind, by player contact if not properly anchored, or by children playing or climbing on them. This can lead to serious injury.

Coaches and parents should:
  • Make sure that goals are properly anchored
  • Don’t Move Goals
  • Keep Children from climbing on the goal posts and netting.



LightningThe Underrated Killer

In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 62 people per year . This ties the average of 62 deaths per year caused by tornadoes. Yet because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is underrated as a risk. While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year, undocumented injuries likely much higher.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from area where it is raining. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately.

Outdoor Activities: Minimize the Risk of Being Struck: Most lightning deaths and injuries occur in the summer. Where organized outdoor sports activities take place, coaches, camp counselors and other adults must stop activities at the first roar of thunder to ensure everyone time to get a large building or enclosed vehicle.

Summary: Lightning is dangerous. With common sense, you can greatly increase your safety and the safety of those you are with. At the first clap of thunder, go a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to back outside. 

Prevent Heat Illness

U.S. Soccer Federation Issues Guidelines

CHICAGO (Wednesday, May 8, 2002) - Children are more susceptible to heat illness than adults. With this in mind and summer heat approaching, the U.S. Soccer Federation - the governing body of all soccer in the United States - has taken a leadership role to develop and distribute Youth Soccer Heat Stress Guidelines for youth coaches and parents.

The goal is to help prevent the potentially deadly effects of heat illness among the 14 million U.S. children who play soccer.

The guidelines provide coaches with an overview of the latest research and information regarding: 1) the physiological factors and soccer-specific factors that place young athletes at risk for heat illness, 2) heat illness prevention techniques and 3) the signs and symptoms of dehydration and heat illness.

"As a U.S. Soccer coach for more than 20 years, I think it''s critical to educate coaches, parents and young players about heat illness, which is the most preventable sports injury, " said John Ellinger, head coach, U.S. Under-17 Men''s National Soccer Team.

To ensure the key points from the guidelines are memorable for coaches, parents and kids, the U.S. Soccer Federation has developed the acronym - G.O.A.L. - that stands for:


  • Get acclimated - active kids'' (and adults'')bodies need time to gradually adapt to increased exposure to high temperatures and humidity. During this eight to 10-day acclimation process, it''s especially important for kids to drink enough fluids.
  • On a schedule, drink up - thirst isn''t an accurate indicator of fluid needs. Young athletes should be encouraged to drink on a schedule or at regular intervals before they become thirsty.
  • Always bring a Gatorade - especially during games and practices in the heat, replacing electrolytes and providing energy is crucial to keeping kids safe and going strong to enjoy their games.
  • Learn the warning signs of dehydration and heat illness - if someone becomes fatigued, dizzy, nauseous or has a headache during exercise in the heat, have them stop, rest and drink fluids. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.


Fluid Guidelines

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 - before they feel thirsty - and consume five to nine ounces of fluid every 20 minutes (a child who weighs less than 90 lbs. needs five ounces of fluid and a child weighing more than 90 lbs. needs nine ounces of fluid).

"It''s crucial that kids drink enough fluids before, during and after activity," said Oded Bar-Or, MD, a contributor to the development of the guidelines and professor of pediatrics and director of the Children''s Exercise and Nutrition Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "Research we conducted shows that when drinking plain water, children don''t drink enough to avoid dehydration. Compared to water, kids will drink 90 percent more of a flavored sports drink with electrolytes like Gatorade to fully re-hydrate. It''s important parents and coaches have these types of fluids available for children during activity."

he U.S. Soccer Federation Youth Heat Stress Guidelines were developed under the consultation of Oded Bar-Or, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Children''s Exercise and Nutrition Centre at McMaster University and Bill Prentice, PhD, PT, ATC, professor of exercise and sports science and trainer for women''s soccer at the University of North Carolina.

The U.S. Soccer Federation plans to incorporate the Youth Soccer Heat Stress Guidelines into its coaches'' curriculum that will reach thousands of youth soccer coaches across the country.

Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer is one of the world''s first organizations to be affiliated with FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, soccer''s world governing body. As the governing body of soccer in all its forms in the United States, U.S. Soccer has helped chart the course for the sport in the USA for 88 years. In that time, the Federation''s mission statement has been very simple and very clear: to make soccer, in all its forms, a preeminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels.