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Youth flag football has more injuries than youth tackle

Posted by John Reed on

I have often noted that flag and touch football are more dangerous than tackle football. Finally, today’s Wall Street Journal repeats that, and the y add that tackle is not as dangerous as people think, which I have also been saying.
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U of IA study (published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine), but there have been plenty of others. But self-righteous parents don’t want to hear it.
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The conclusion is that youth tackle football is relatively safe and flag and touch are not safer.
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That understates the difference. They have skull fractures in flag and touch. Ditto dental injuries and eye injuries. Tackle famously has concussions, although I only saw one in all my years of playing and coaching and that was JV high school. And flag and touch nave no shortage of concussions. Indeed, the author of the study said concussions seem to come in pairs in flag and touch. Of course: head-to-head collisions.

http://www.johntreed.com/collections/football-coaching-books/products/coaching-youth-football

Coaching Youth Football bookWe rarely have dental or eye injuries because of mouth guards and face masks. I have never heard of a skull fracture in football because the helmet is an ever improving piece of high technology that must be professionally inspected at all levels annually.
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Basic reason: tackle football players wear NFL quality equipment—like $600 worth each—and flag and touch players wear absolutely nothing. Why NFL quality? For liability reasons, the manufacturers stopped making a lesser grade because of lawsuits.
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When recruiting youth football players I often had fathers say a flat no accompanied by “I don’t want my son to blow out his knee” or I don’t want my son to get concussions.” I have never seen either injury in youth football. Kids are extremely flexible which protects them from some of the injuries older players suffer.
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I coached both tackle and flag and wrote books about each.
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http://www.johntreed.com/collections/football-coaching-books
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I also researched the hell out of it. And I reffed flag football and played intramural tackle at West Point. West Point put in flag after tackle. They told us that the Naval Academy which had intramural flag before us said they had more injuries in flag than in any other intramural sport and the others included tackle, boxing, lacrosse, and other collision and contact sports. Once West Point started flag, they had the same experience as Navy. It was the intramural sport that caused the most injuries.


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