How much tackling practice do kids really need to prepare for a football game? A new study suggests that kids really don't need all of those rough and tumble contact drills at practice to get any better. And exposing kids to that kind of contact at both practices and games, just increases their likelihood of suffering a concussion.
Concussion study: No more contact drills for kids
Researchers find that exposing kids to contact drills during practice does not make them any better at absorbing these hits during football games.
Football parents and coaches have long debated just how much practice kids need to protect themselves during blocks and tackles during football games. According to this study, which was conducted by researchers from the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, the amount of contact drills that kids do at football practice does not reduce the number of head hits that kids are exposed to at games. So its authors are calling for a reduction in contact drills at football practice in youth football leagues.
Many NFL, college, and high school teams are already reducing the number of contact drills in practices. But smaller youth leagues do not always adhere to the same guidelines set by these other organizations. About 3.5 million kids between ages 6 and 13 play youth league football in the United States.
“The concern is if we don’t teach kids how to hit in practice, they’re going to get blown away in the games,” said Stefan Duma, the director of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and one of the co-authors of the study. “This shows you can dramatically cut the amount of exposure in practice and have no more exposure during the games.”
Are your kids getting ready to gear up for football season? Do you know if there are any regulations in place at your school or in your youth league regarding contact drills at practice? If not, now is a very good time to find out.