Steps to Reduce Football Injuries
Headfirst hits and helmet-to-helmet hits usually are the most dangerous for players of any age, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a zero-tolerance policy for these hits for youth football leagues.
Although some risk of injury is inherent in playing any sport, there are numerous other ways to reduce that risk in youth football:
- Wear equipment with proper padding, and check it often
- Don’t play if you’re already hurt
- Don’t play tackle football until at least age 10
- Match teams based on the players’ size and skill, not strictly by age or grade level
- Address proper tackling and blocking techniques — and how to absorb tackles as well — during practices, while a coach can control the circumstances
- Ensure that players go through conditioning long before the season begins, and include neck strengthening
- Coaches should learn and be certified in first aid and CPR and undergo training to identify concussions
- Stay hydrated
- Warm up before practices and games, and stay loose on the sideline when not playing
- Have an athletic trainer available on the sideline
Youth football league officials may have all or many of these safeguards in place already, but with so much at stake, parents can take on the responsibility of checking up on safety practices.
The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement also recommended that more flag football or non-tackle leagues be created for those who don’t want to be exposed to the risks associated with playing tackle football.
Fun Youth Football Drill Idea to Help Cool Down in the Heat: “The Balloon Sprint”
Have some parents or coaching staff stand on the sidelines between the end zone and the 50-yard line of the field armed with small water balloons. Then have the kid’s lineup at the end of the end zone and sprint from the end zone to the 50-yard line. The parents/coach staff then toss the balloons at the kids while they run and whoever gets hit is out. Repeat the sprint until only one player remains. For added fun, turn the tables and have the kids throw water balloons at you! Have fun and stay cool!!!