Youth Football and Safety
Warren Youth Football is committed to providing a fun and safe environment for kids to enjoy our beloved sport.
True change in the game of football must begin at the youth level. We understand and embrace that responsibility because it is in the best interest of our kids.
We are proud to be one of the many youth football programs actively engaged in taking steps for a smarter and safer youth football environment. Organizations like USA Football are providing a lot of resources and information to help us on this journey.
Youth Football Today
USA Football commissioned a two-year Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research advanced study on organized youth football injuries.
More details can be found here: http://usafootball.com/blogs/health-and-safety/post/8127
Study findings include:
- Nearly 90 percent of youth players did not sustain an injury that resulted in missing a game or practice.
- Of the 22.4 percent of players who reported an injury, 70 percent returned to play the same day.
- Of the 11.9 percent of players who missed a game or practice because of injury, 60 percent returned to play within seven days.
- Bruises were the most common injuries (34 percent), followed by ligament sprains (16 percent).
- 4.3 percent of players in the study sustained a concussion.
- Players were more likely to sustain an injury during games than in practices.
- No catastrophic head, neck or heat-related injuries were reported among the more than 4,000 players during the study’s two-year span.
Datalys found that leagues and teams within leagues were the strongest predictors of injury after controlling for factors such as age, player size, plays per game and playing standards. Researchers conclude that coach education could address changeable behaviors within teams and positively influence player safety. (information provided by USA Football)
These Datalys findings are all in practice with Warren Youth Football and TCYFL. Age, player size and skill level are the primary components to how our teams are built each season. All of our coaches and players are strictly instructed in our identified safety standards for teaching football. And every WYF and TCYFL coach is required to complete USA Football’s Head’s Up training annually.
Nothing is more important than the work we do to protect every young athlete involved with WYF.
Baseline Concussion Testing
This begins with our required Baseline Concussion Testing. The key to protecting athletes from the dangers of a concussion are identifying the injury and allowing it to fully heal. For proper diagnosis, every athlete, 10 years of age and older, must have a Baseline Concussion Test. (a baseline cannot be established on children under the age of 10)
These tests help physicians to diagnose a concussion and identify when the injury has fully healed. We know that the greatest danger is when a concussion occurs before another has healed. It is our goal to never allow this to happen.
Every season we begin with a voluntary week of conditioning camp and a week of tryouts without contact. These weeks are designed to acclimate our athletes to the rigors of practice and heat.
During this time we spend limited time in helmets and shoulder pads, taking small steps towards practices in full pads and full contact.
Once we enter our regular practice schedules, our teams are limited to eight total hours of practice. Only four of those hours may include full contact.
On very hot days, WYF follows strict guidelines regarding limited or canceled practices. Our coaches are taught to identify heat illnesses and they are instructed to always provide water breaks when needed, erring on the side of caution.
Our coaches are offered training in First Aid and CPR. Every team is required to have at least one coach who is certified in this training.
Also, all of our coaches must complete USA Football’s training on heat, hydration, recognizing a concussion and properly fitting football equipment on an annual basis.
TCYFL requires that a professionally certified athletic trained be present for all games. That individual is responsible for assessing and in some cases treating a possible injury.
No coach, player, official or league representative may over rule an athletic trainer when they declare that an athlete can no longer participate in a competition.
Heads Up Football
Heads Up Football is a program by USA Football designed to significantly limit the use of the head and helmet in the process of tackling and playing the game.
For many years our football society forgot that the helmet was designed to protect athletes from incidental contact and skull fractures. Our focus is to return the culture of the game to remembering what a helmet is designed to do.
Additionally, we often forget that a tackle is meant to put a ball carrier on the ground. It is a simple and normally safe concept.
Through Heads Up Football and its implementation, we can and will bring back a safe and fun culture for every athlete. This is why every WYF coach is trained in these practices annually.
Virginia Tech University is often cited as the leader in researching football helmet safety. Their STAR system is the best on the market for helmet safety.
Learn more about their work here: http://www.sbes.vt.edu/nid.php
Following this rating system, WYF is only purchasing new, 5 STAR rated helmets for our athletes.
Every year WYF helmets are professionally recertified. That means they are inspected, cleaned and repaired by an outside company, specially trained for this work.
Additionally, any piece of equipment that does not meet rigorous safety standards is disposed of and replaced.