Shipley Policy on Heading

In the effort to reduce the number of concussions and minimize the cumulative effects of forces to the head, Shipley has chosen to take a decisive stand on the use of “headers” in soccer. Partnering with the Concussion Legacy Foundation, Dr. Tom Drake, specialist in pediatric neurology, and numerous local health professionals, this policy is instituted in the interests of protecting the developing brains of our students. Going forward, all Middle School athletes who play soccer will be prohibited from using their heads in competitive play. This will be in effect for boys and girls in all games at the Middle School level.

Players will be taught, in a developmental sequence, the techniques needed to head the ball in as safe and effective manner as possible, recognizing that there is no safe level of force to the head. All players will also receive specific physical training and targeted strengthening to increase the protective factors for when heading becomes a necessity. Shipley is also planning to pilot the use of sensory equipment (Triax) to measure the cumulative force of hits to the head for our athletes and to aid in the inaugural research in this important area.

While certain leagues and associations have limited heading for younger players, research on traumatic brain injury clearly indicates that players under the age of 14 should completely avoid intense hits to the head (those that lead to an acute concussion) as well as cumulative “smaller” hits to the head. Since a “safe” level of force to the head has not been established, Shipley is making the decision to avoid the use of heading for its younger players.

Additionally, some leagues encourage or require protective headgear for younger players; however, data on this type of equipment indicates that players can develop a false sense of security when taking hits to the head, leading them to become more aggressive with other players and with headed balls. Headgear provides only minimal protection from direct forehead hits while providing no protection for the rotational acceleration forces that occur when players attempt to direct the ball with their heads, 39 one of the most insidious forces in mild traumatic brain injury. Teaching better technique and targeting improved strength training are currently the best practices in increasing the safety of heading.

Shipley will continue to use the ImPACT test for all Upper School students, not just student athletes, so that a baseline of performance is established prior to any potential brain injury; a practice that has been established for several years. Beginning in 2014-15, all 7th and 8th graders will also receive baseline testing with ImPACT so that informed post-concussion decisions can be made for these students as well. The clear post-concussion policy and return to play/schoolwork progression, established in 2012, will continue to be in effect for all Shipley students.

While we anticipate that there will be some questions and concerns about this policy, we hope it is clear that we value the health and safety of our students, and the fragility of the developing brain, above all else.
Dr. David Rubenstein is our Shipley orthopedist and is available for consultation with an appointment on any sports-related injuries. Contact our Shipley ATC’s for help with an appointment with Dr Rubenstein -

Meet the Team

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Kimberly Shaud

    Kimberly Shaud 

    Athletics Trainer, PE Teacher
    Phone/Extension: 4196
    West Chester University
    Kutztown University - BA
  • Photo of Stacie Valone

    Stacie Valone 

    Assistant Athletic Trainer
    Phone/Extension: 4196
    Temple University - B
    Goucher College
    Temple University - DAT

More Information

List of 7 news stories.

  • Shipley Receives Prestigious Safe Sports School Award

    The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) program recognized Shipley's athletic training staff for its ongoing preventative injury work that prioritizes keeping students safe on the playing field.
    Read More
  • Shipley Featured in MetroKids Concussion Article

    Shipley's Athletic Director, Mark Duncan, was recently featured in the MetroKids article "How Can You Tell if Your Child Has a Concussion?"
    Read More
  • Shipley and CHOP Partnership Featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer

    Shipley's partnership with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia doctors and scientists to discover an objective way to diagnose concussions and prevent long-term effects was recently featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer article, "Concussions in teen athletes: Making sure the brain is OK before getting cleared to play."
    Read More
  • Steve Piltch's Letter about Shipley's Policy Change

    Steve shares compelling concerns about the incidence of concussions as a result of heading the ball in soccer. In an effort to reduce the occurrence of concussions, and train young athletes in the proper technique for heading the ball, Shipley will introduce a no heading policy for Middle School soccer games beginning in the fall of 2014.
    Read More
  • Meeting of the Minds: The Concussion Discussion

    All parents want their children to be safe. But can young athletes be safe and competitive in contact sports? Our panel discusses the impact of brain injuries and safety on the culture of youth sports, as well as the implications of Shipley’s no-heading policy in Middle School soccer.
    Read More
  • The Shipley School Partners with the Concussion Legacy Foundation on the Concussion Crisis

    Shipley is proud to announce its groundbreaking partnership with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to solve the sports concussion crisis impacting our youth. This fall, Shipley will introduce the use of Triax sensors for Upper School athletes playing contact sports. All student athletes will wear the monitors, which will help identify significant impacts and will be part of the Hit Count program.
    Read More
  • Steve's Letter about Shipley's Concussion Program

    Steve discusses Shipley's ongoing efforts to protect the safety of our students and deal with the challenges of the impact of concussions in their lives. New developments over the summer include the decision to use Triax impact sensors in Upper School contact sports, a partnership with the Concussion Legacy Foundation and their Hit Count Program, and participation in a study conducted by the University of Delaware and Children’s Hospital to help improve the safety of children.
    Read More
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Concussion Information & Policies

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.