Football Matters, an initiative of the National Football Foundation, is a where you can get information and resources about participating in the game of football. In addition you fill find news about the game and at all levels.

Suggested Guidelines for Parents and Coaches to Discuss

Goal: Safety Should Be Top Priority for All

Safety is the number one priority of Football Matters as it relates to youth football. We aim to provide helpful resources for those looking to make a responsible decision to allow one’s child to participate.

If parents are unsure about letting their kids play tackle football, we encourage them to consider flag football as an alternative. Flag football is a great way for young boys and girls to learn the game, can be played at an early age and helps them learn about competition in a fun environment while also getting exercise. NFL FLAG is one resource that can help you find a league.

If you believe your child is ready to play tackle football, we’ve compiled a list of “Suggested Guidelines for Parents and Coaches to Discuss.”

  • Firm understanding among all parties that safety is the top priority
  • Certification and training coaches have received (head coaches certification, Keep the Head Out of Football, etc.)
  • Pre-season and in-season practice policy (amount of contact, full pads, etc.)
  • Heat policy relative to all activities
  • Review the Concussion Management Policy and protocols, e.g., removed from practice or game, no participation until cleared by Concussion Oversight Team, etc.
  • If applicable, discuss baseline concussion testing programs
  • Helmet and equipment safety standards and procedures (i.e., quality helmets that are certified every year and fitted by a trained professional)
  • Critical importance of a quality mouthpiece (invest in a mouthpiece for better protection)
  • Information on the safety personnel available at practices and games (physicians, trainers, ambulances, etc.)
  • Discuss and review any emergency management plans and protocol concerning major injuries, lightning, etc.
  • Outside of safety, engage in conversations about why you want your kids to play and coaches can provide insights on the other benefits the game provides (discipline, teamwork, increased focus on academics, etc.)

We support USA Football’s Heads Up Football. USA Football has worked with leaders in both medicine and sports across the country to create a full-featured program that any league or school can use to address key safety issues — and ensure that every coach understands and knows how to implement each component of the program. Heads Up Football includes programs specially tailored for youth football organizations and scholastic football programs — so you can make sure your coaches have the right tools for the level of players they coach. More information can be found at usafootball.com/programs/heads-up-football/.

Football Matters also supports the Positive Coaching Alliance. A positive approach gets the most from youth and high school athletes, which is what coaches, parents and the athletes themselves want. Staying positive also helps youth get the most out of sports. Encouraging athletes with positive reinforcement helps them hear and heed the necessary corrections.

We also believe that more research about the game’s safety, at every level, needs to be conducted, and here at Football Matters, we’ve compiled several articles since 2016 that provide stats, information on studies and different points-of-view.

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