Parent & Player Concussion Information Sheet

Get trained and certified for Concussion Awareness, here!

The CDC has issued a warning and process regarding concussion in youth sports, regardless of the sport.  California now requires notification and review of concussion detection and follow-up, for parents and players involved in youth sports.  Additionally, coaches and referees must take the online concussion course, the AYSO CDC Concussion Awareness training.

In recognition of the serious long-term potential for harm caused by concussion, and the heightened susceptibility to concussion by younger players, Palo Alto AYSO policy ban's heading of the ball at U10 and under for instructional players.  This policy continues.  Referees are asked to treat an act of heading the ball by Instructional U8 and U10 players as a foul, "dangerous play".

This policy does not apply to Palo Alto Elite or Spring Select, but coaches are encouraged not to train heading excessively, and to be extra cautious about encouraging a player to head the ball if they are not prepared to execute it well.  There are procedures to teach heading the ball using foam rubber balls that do not present a concussion risk.

BE AWARE that recent evidence shows concussion-like brain lesions in children repeatedly practicing heading, even when no concussion is evident.  The harmful effects may be long term, barely noticed, but harmful. 

All Palo Alto AYSO Coaches and Referees are required to get the Concussion Awareness certification, and all other volunteers are strongly encouraged to be certified.  

What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain works.  A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.  Even a "ding", "getting your bell rung", or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Concussion?
Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury.

If an athlete reports one or more symptoms of concussion listed below after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, the player should be kept out of play or practice the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experience in evaluating for concussion, says the athlete is symptom-free and it's OK to return to play.


  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can't recall events prior to the hit or fall
  • Can't recall events after hit or fall

In rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain in a person with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull.  An athlete should receive immediate medical attention if after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body the athlete exhibits any of the following danger signs:
  • One pupil is larger than the other
  • Is drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • A headache that does not diminish, but gets worse
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Becomes increasingly confused, restless, or agitated
  • Has unusual behavior
  • Loses consciousness ( even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)
Did You Know?
  • Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.
  • Anyone who has had a concussion at any point in their lives has an increased risk for another concussion.
  • Young children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.

Concussions affect people differently.  While most athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some will have symptoms that last for days, or even weeks.  A more serious concussion can last for months.


  • Headache or "pressure" in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Felling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Just "not feeling right" or "feeling down"


If you suspect that an athlete has a concussion, remove the athlete from play and seek medical attention.  Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself.  Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says the athlete is symptom-free and it's OK to return to play.

Rest is key to helping an athlete recover from a concussion.  Exercising or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or playing video games, may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse.  After a concussion, returning to sports and school is a gradual process that should be carefully managed and monitored by a health care professional.