Environmental conditions can significantly impact player health and safety. Extreme temperatures, severe weather and the integrity of the playing field and its equipment all impact players’ ability to practice and compete safely. U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover program gives players, parents, coaches and referees information and guidelines to make sure the desire to play does not cloud the decision-making process when it comes to evaluating environmental conditions to ensure the safety of those on the field.
Extreme heat can impact players' health and safe play. Proper hydration and knowing when you need to drink are critical, to help prevent many injuries and illnesses, from muscle cramps to heat stroke. Players should drink water before, during and after a game or practice, which means coaches should make sure there is adequate water available. U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover program gives players, parents, coaches and referees information and guidelines to make sure the desire to play does not cloud the decision-making process when it comes to evaluating environmental conditions to ensure the safety of those on the field.
Thirst is a warning that your body is already in an early stage of dehydration. Drink when you are thirsty. Recognizing the signs of dehydration are important because the amount of water required will vary from player to player.
Lightning is one of the top ten causes of sudden death in sport.1 As the majority of soccer is played outdoors, lightning and severe weather pose a threat to player health and safety. U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover program, with the help of the Korey Stringer Institute, provides these guidelines for responding quickly and safely when lightning and severe weather threaten practice or a game. When it comes to making decisions to suspend or cancel play due to weather condition, coaches, officials, athletic trainers and administrators all share responsibility. These same individuals should be aware of close safe shelter locations and know how to evaluate when it is safe to resume play after severe weather leaves an area.
1. Casa DJ, Guskiewicz KM, Anderson SA, et al. National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Preventing Sudden Death in Sports. J Athl Train. 2012;47(1):96-118.
If someone is injured by a lightning strike, follow these emergency management steps:
Under no circumstances should a player injured in a lightning strike return to the game or practice. Injured players should only be allowed to return to play after a thorough examination and release by a qualified physician.
Warning signs of a lightning strike:
If these occur, assume the lightning safe position:
Field conditions vary from location to location, but safety practices are the same. There may be hazards on the field that need attention before safe play can begin.
Millions of U.S. residents travel internationally each year (more than 68.2 million trips in 2014!). We travel for a variety of reasons – for work, for relaxation, to visit friends and relatives, and to explore new cultures. As a U.S. Soccer player, coach, family member or referee, you may find yourself traveling overseas for a match or tournament. While an illness or injury could ruin anyone’s trip abroad, for you it may mean the difference between a win and a loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date recommendations for safe and healthy international travel. CDC also provides important country-specific health information, including the latest notices on events and outbreaks happening around the world.
You can use the Travelers’ Health page on the CDC website as a go-to resource:
For more information, visit CDC Travelers’ Health.
View the CDC's current list of worldwide health notices.
As Zika virus is reported in new areas, it is important for international travelers to be aware and know how to protect themselves. Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, and sexual transmission from a male partner is also possible. CDC has tips for travelers to protect themselves from Zika.
Many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do get sick, the illness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, so CDC recommends special travel precautions for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
In rare cases, Zika virus has been known to cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a disorder that can cause muscle weakness, and sometimes, paralysis for a few weeks to several months. GBS is likely triggered by Zika virus in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.
Check CDC’s website frequently (including before your trip) for the most up-to-date information.