Fundamental Youth Soccer

“Choose The Right Shoes – it really does matter!”

By Mike Castain, MS, ATC, CSCS

Choose the right shoes - it matters in youth soccerI was very pleased to read your article in a previous edition of “FUNdamental Soccer” about youth soccer lower extremity injuries and their relationship to soccer shoes. Not only did your article state how to treat these specific injuries, but it also begins the educational process of how to prevent these “overuse” conditions.

As an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist, I work with these types of injuries on a daily basis. I find myself challenged as to how to keep these individuals active and on the field without compromising their growth process. I agree with the Podiatrists’ conclusions these types of injuries are also the result of “overuse”. These kids just play one sport all year-round. Their young bodies do not have a chance to recover while they are growing. Often, during the growth process, the kids’ muscles develop at a very quick rate, while the ligaments, tendons & bones do not grow and develop at the same pace. The result of these “growth spurts” is that a lot of tension is placed upon the involved structures and if extended over a period of time, degeneration of the tissue will occur. This is potentially hazardous to the young, physically immature, athlete because it can interfere with the formation of their growing bones and result in potential injuries in the future. I see college and professional athletes who have been battling these injuries since they were 12 years old, while some of them have had several orthopedic surgeries performed by the time they are 18 or 19 years old. These individuals are risking an early onset of arthritis at a very early age.

size matters - youth soccer cleatsThe Podiatrists’ recommendation of a heel lift is very useful in the treatment of theses particular conditions; however I believe that prevention of these injuries should be of paramount importance. Although the soccer shoe itself may be a predisposing factor to these types of injuries, I am glad that the fact that “overuse” has come to the surface a major causative factor. Along the same lines, other systemic illnesses and conditions, especially in females, can occur as a result of “overuse” or “over-training”. These conditions include, but are not limited to menstrual irregularities, osteoporosis/decreased bone density, stress fractures, musculoskeletal injury, and eating disorders.

We, as coaches, administrators & parents, have to do a better job of monitoring the youth soccer player’s activities so as to not cause any detriment to their growth process. The fact that these kids are playing soccer all year long needs to be changed. Guidelines or rules of how many different leagues, preseason tournaments and post-season tournaments a youth can participate in should be instilled to effectively manage the youth injury rate.

I believe that coach and parental education is the key to decrease the incidence of these injuries. As a CYSA “E” Licensed Coach, I can say that your coaches’ education in this respect is very good. While completing the CYSA “E” course I was very fortunate to have Kevin Walker as the course instructor. Aside from being a great coach and instructor, I felt that Kevin was very genuine in his feelings of not overworking the youth participants.

In conclusion, I am very happy that these issues are coming to surface and that the educational process is beginning at the youth sport level. I feel that “FUNdamental Soccer” & CYSA can be a pioneer in developing coaching and parental education programs in an attempt to decrease the “overuse” injury rate, while at the same time keeping soccer fun for the kids and parents. Keep up the good work!

If I can be of further assistance or if you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me:

Mike Castain, MS, ATC, CSCS
Certified Athletic Trainer and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
CYSA “E” Licensed Coach, Castro Valley Youth Soccer League