Soccer league requires 45 headers of concussed players

Women are more susceptible to concussions. It’s a documented, thoroughly researched fact. The reasons that this is true are a bit murky, but the information is widely accepted. Concussion symptoms manifest differently and take longer to heal in women as well.


Which makes it all the more disturbing that the National Women’s Soccer League requires 45 headers over the course of three days as part of its return-to-play protocol.



Here’s a breakdown of the system: Players take an ImPACT evaluation at the beginning of each season to establish a baseline. After a suspected concussion, they retake the test, and if they fail are taken out of play for about a week. Then they take the test again (and again if necessary) until they pass. Up until this point, the system seems reasonable.


But after passing the test, players are required to head the ball fifteen times in one day from eight yards away – five forward, five on the left, and five on the right. The same procedure is repeated on the next two days, with the distances increasing each day.


Considering the known dangers of second impact syndrome, this is an incredibly risky policy. It would be unsafe to subject even a healthy brain to that number of consecutive hits, but to one that’s very recently been concussed, it could be disastrous. For the safety of its players, the National Women’s Soccer League needs to rework its concussion protocol to help players in their recovery, rather than risk further harm.


*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.