One area of risk management that we take for granted is player equipment. There are two most important pieces of player equipment, shoes and shin guards. A third piece of personal player equipment is a mouthguard. This becomes more important as the player ages. For all three, make sure you buy from only reputable dealers, and that all your equipment is in good condition.
Shoes: The majority of soccer injuries occurs to the lower extremities. Appropriate footwear is important. Poorly designed or incorrectly fitted shoes are often cited as reasons for foot and ankle problems.
Shin Guards: Shin guards worn inside the stockings have reduced the severity of blows to the shin. Although they can’t prevent all tibia related injures, they provide a good source of protection.
There are currently no standards for shin guards, but the American Society for Testing and Materials is trying to establish shin guard standardization. According to the group, “It is possible that some shin guards on the market may actually increase the risk of injury by allowing a person to believe they are protected [and therefore take more chances] while in fact, the shin guard is not effective in offering protection to the user.”
Mouthguard: The mouthguard issue is an easy one. They should be worn by all athletes at all practices and contests. This protects the soft tissues of the player’s mouth as well as their teeth. See article below on mouthguards.
Helmets: The use of helmets for keepers continues to be a question mark. To date there is no agreement as to its effect on the game. However, some youth leagues are choosing to use them as an extra safety measure.
Women Need to be "On Guard" When it Comes to Athletics
Before you or your daughter take the field to participate in sports, make sure your protective gear includes a mouthguard.
Contact sports such as football and hockey are usually associated with orofacial injuries and require protective mouthguards; however, findings show that soccer players are more likely than football players to sustain an orofacial injury, while basketball players have a risk up to 15 times that of football players.
"Even though basketball is not considered a contact sport, studies have found that as high as 30 percent of orofacial injuries result from contact during a basketball game," says David Kumamoto, DDS, FAGD.
Mouthguards protect against injuries to the lips, teeth, cheeks and tongue and reduce the incidence and severity of injuries during practice and competition. They also help protect against jaw fractures and neck injuries and may also reduce the severity and incidence of concussions.
"Increased participation in sports by women and girls shows that they’re taking athletics seriously. And they need to protect themselves from preventable injuries," says Dr. Kumamoto.
The Academy of General Dentistry recommends that players participating in basketball, softball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating and martial arts, whether for an athletic competition or leisure activity, wear mouthguards while competing.