Recognize to Recover

US Soccer Federation Recognize to Recover

UpdatedMonday April 25, 2016 bySoccer.

This winter the US Soccer Federation established a comprehensive player health and safety program called Recognize to Recover. The first-of-its-kind program aims to reduce injuries in soccer players of all ages and promote safe play by those on and around the field. 

Coaches and Parents I ask that you take the time to review these safety initiatives and recommendations. The guidelines are effect at this time. Some of these guidelines change the rules of game, so that it important that you understand these changes. The CBAA Soccer Website will also be set up with references to the Recognize to Recover information so that you can easily find information during the course of the season. 

Recognize to Recover was developed with the help of medical experts and will provide coaches, players, parents and referees with information, guidance and educational materials to improve the prevention and management of injuries.

Recognize to Recover provides guidelines on:

·  Concussion guidelines

·  Cardiac safety

·  Heat-related illnesses

                                                       HEADING RULE CHANGES                                                          

Per US Soccer’s new concussion initiatives CBAA Soccer, Buckingham United, and Top Soccer will require the following:

  • Players in U-11 programs and younger shall not engage in heading, either in practices or in games.
  • Limited heading in practice for players in U-12 and U-13 programs. More specifically, these players shall be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes of heading training per week, with no more than 15-20 headers per player, per week.
    • Coaches, Parents, and Players should be aware of circumstances in which individual consideration is needed. For example:
      • A 10 year old playing at U-12 or older should not head the ball at all.
      • An 11 or 12 year old playing at U-14 or older should abide by the heading restrictions in practice.
  • Referees should enforce these restrictions by age group according to the specified rules. Referees will not be assessing the age of individual players on the field; they will enforce the rules for the age group.
  • In adherence to these new requirements, referees have been instructed by U.S. Soccer of the following rule addition: When a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. 
  • Modified substitution rules also took effect January 1, 2016, as follows: Any player suspected of suffering a head injury may be substituted for evaluation without the substitution counting against the team’s total number of allowed substitutions during the game.
  • US Club Soccer, CBAA Soccer, CBAA TopSoccer, and Buckingham United strongly recommends that all coaches, staff members, parents and players watch the following “Concussions in Soccer” video produced by U.S. Soccer:

These rule changes are in effect for our IM and Travel leagues this spring.

For more information, please refer to U.S. Soccer’s list of frequently asked questions in regards to its player safety campaign.



US Soccer recommends and CBAA Soccer, Buckingham United, and CBAA Top Soccer require the following concussion education requirements:


Referee Education

                  Requires on an annual basis all referees licensed through US Soccer or unlicensed, to affirm their review of the CDC Concussion video and to review concussion information/protocols which are associated with the concussion course material.


 Parent and Legal Guardian Education

                  Recommends that parents and/or legal guardians of all youth soccer players discuss the subject of concussions with their children and the need to be candid about any injury they may sustain.


                  Requires that parents and/or legal guardians of youth players acknowledge annually that they have reviewed and understand the concussion video and parent information on concussion symptoms, diagnosis, and management and that they have discussed the issues and the need to be candid with coaches and referees about any injury they sustain with their players.  (This will start with Fall player registrations)


Player Education

                  Requires youth players over the age of 13 to acknowledge annually that they have reviewed and understand the concussion video and player information on concussion symptoms, diagnosis, and management and they understand the need to be candid with parents and/or legal guardians, coaches, and referees about any injury they may sustain.   (This will start with Fall player registrations.)

                                EVALUATION AND RETURN-TO-PLAY PROTOCOLS                                       _


Per US Soccer’s new concussion initiatives, evaluation and return-to-play protocols have been introduced for players who have suffered head injuries.  This initiative applies to tournaments with 64 or more teams at U-11 and older age groups.  This initiative applies to the Buckingham United “March Into Cups” Annual Tournament.


US Soccer recommends and CBAA Soccer, Buckingham United, and CBAA Top Soccer requires immediate removal of any player who sustains a significant blow to the head or body, who complains about or who is showing symptoms consistent with having suffered a concussion.


For events with an on-site healthcare professional, this professional will perform applicable testing – SCAT3 or Child SCAT3 and modified BESS – to evaluate players on the field/sideline.  Any player suspected of suffering a concussion will not be allowed to return to play until he/she is cleared by the healthcare professional.  No coach, parent/guardian or player may overrule the healthcare professional.


·       Healthcare professionals are considered licensed professionals, such as an athletic trainer certified (ATC) or physician (MD/DO) with skills in emergency care, sports medicine injuries and experience related to concussion evaluation and management.


If a coach attempts to allow a player who has been removed from a game for concussion assessment and who has not been cleared to return to play by the on-site healthcare professional, the referee should:

1.     Immediately stop play;

2.     Direct the player to leave the field;

3.     Instruct the coach to select a substitute;

4.     Issue a warning to the coach

a.     If a coach persists, the referee is entitled to take necessary disciplinary measures against the coach.

b.     The referee should include this behavior in his/her referee report (to ICSL, PAGS, EPYSA, US Club soccer, etc..)


For events without an on-site healthcare professional, no coach can permit a player who has been removed from a game for concussion suspicion/assessment to return to play until he/she is cleared by a healthcare professional.  Referee responses and actions outlined above should be taken against any coach who persists in trying to re-insert the player into the game without proper clearance by a healthcare professional.


Return-to-Play Protocol

For any player removed from practice or play who has been diagnosed as having suffered a concussion, the player will not be permitted to return to practice or play until the player has successfully completed a graduated return-to-play protocol under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


The graduated return-to-play protocol will consist of at least the following steps:

(1)   The player must be symptom free at rest for 24 hours before commencing the protocol;

(2)   The player must be symptom free after moderate activity for 24 hours;

(3)   The player must be symptom free after heavy activity for 24 hours;

(4)   Healthcare professional must confirm that the player has completed the return-to-play protocol and a physician must make the final return-to-play decision. 

Coaches will not allow players to return to play without a physician signed note clearing the player for return to play.



                                                      CARDIAC SAFETY                                                                  


The “non-contact collapse of an athlete, coach, referee or bystander is presumed to be sudden cardiac arrest,” according to this important document from U.S. Soccer outlining the immediate response to a sudden cardiac arrest.

For tips on CPR and AED training, please review this document.

                                                               HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES                                      

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion are a serious condition and could be potentially life-threatening.

Below is a reference for coaches, referees and players who train in warmer climates. The guidelines also serve as a guide for match play, hydration breaks and participant safety during extreme temperature conditions.

Thank you for taking time to read these important guidelines.  If you have questions about these guidelines, just send me an e-mail at and I will do my best to get you answer.  Have a great and safe spring season.


Bill Gibbons

CBAA Soccer Director of Conduct and Safety