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Heads Up! Former U.S. Soccer Player Says Headers Are Bad for Kids

Thursday, July 03, 2014

WNYC
A scrimmage in East New York, led by the coaches at Street Soccer USA. A scrimmage in East New York, led by the coaches at Street Soccer USA. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Ten years ago, Cindy Parlow Cone retired from professional soccer partly because of headaches and fatigue caused by concussions from playing over her career. Now she's raising awareness about the trauma that heading the ball can cause to young brains in hopes that youth leagues will ban headers until high school.

"It's not like a broken leg, where you can see the injury, you know what you need to do to heal it," Cone said. "Concussions are very different."

But Dean Selvey, a soccer coach at Sporting Club GJØA in Bay Ridge, doesn't think age limits are the answer. He said that teaching kids how to head the ball safely gives them the skills to prevent more severe injuries later on in life.

"If a kid is unprepared for a ball and someone hits it at them as hard as they can and it hits them in the head, that's going to cause a concussion for sure," Selvey said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, soccer is one of the sports with the highest number of concussions.

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