In response to the rising concern about injuries, especially concussions, in young football players, Pop Warner has released two rule changes for the upcoming season intended to curb contact during practices.
Pop Warner, the largest youth football organization in the country, hopes to lead the way in making the popular sport safer for children, according to a press release from the company. The changes were devised with help from local officials and coaches as well as the organization's medical advisory board.
The first rule outlines that Pop Warner players may only spend one-third of their total weekly practice time in contact with other players. This includes scrimmages and drills performed at full speed or versus an opposing line. As most youth football teams practice about nine hours per week, they can now only dedicate three hours to contact drills.
The second policy entirely prohibits "straight ahead" blocking and tackling drills where the scrimmage lines are more than three yards apart, according to the press release.
The chairman of Pop Warner's medical advisory board, Julian Bailes, said in a statement, "The impact of head-to-head contact causes the most severe concussions, so we felt it was imperative that Pop Warner take a proactive approach and limit contact in practices."
The new regulations take effect for this season and will be accompanied by a new safety initiative sponsored by the organization. In addition to detailing the changes, Pop Warner emphasized the use of proper tackling techniques and the restriction on tactics like face tackling and spearing on their teams.
Every young athlete can reduce his risk of injury with a properly fitted and rated youth football helmet. A high-quality helmet provides adequate protection for the player with extra shock absorption and tight-fitting padding, so that when a collision does happen, a concussion is less likely.