Parents are best suited to choose when football is right for their kids

By Scott Hallenbeck | Posted 4/16/2019

Youth football and some other forward-thinking sports are coached and played at 21st century standards.

We care about our sport, but we care more about the kids who play it.

As a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the sport’s national governing body, USA Football offers coaching education and youth football practice guidelines supported by leading sports medicine associations. These organizations comprise more than 50,000 members in 90 countries spanning 70 occupations within sports medicine.

Inspired innovations like these benefit Massachusetts families and are fueled by education and smarter play. For the good of young athletes across the Bay State, these are football’s brightest days as our kids enjoy its fun and fitness in reimagined ways.

Some Massachusetts lawmakers do not think parents should own the decision to consider progressive tackle football programs for their children 12 and under.

USA Football believes moms and dads are best suited to discern what sports their children may play and at what age they may play them.

It is incumbent upon youth football programs to offer more choices to play, learn and enjoy the sport. USA Football creates such entry points and standards, supported by medical and sports development experts through the Football Development Model (FDM), designed in alignment with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The FDM’s ground-breaking framework is directed by the FDM Council, consisting of leaders spanning The Ivy League, Children’s National Health System, the University of North Carolina, and others.

By working together, the FDM advances our kids’ joy of playing football with fun and positive experiences, increasing physical literacy and exercise habits for lifelong health.

This translates to more options to play America’s favorite sport, including flag; Rookie Tackle, a small-sided version of the sport focused on skill development; and traditional 11-player tackle.

“Shrinking the field and having modified tackle programs allows young athletes to grow into the game,” USOC Director of Coaching Development Chris Snyder told The Associated Press in 2018. “This philosophy fits very well with football.”

“(The ADM) improves the ability to develop athleticism,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline stated in the same report. “USA Football is wise to be doing this.”

More than 100,000 moms and dads in all 50 states were certified by USA Football in 2018 to coach their kids. These are committed, caring and engaged parents and the number of certified coaches continues to grow. USA Football believes that every youth football coach – be it in flag, Rookie Tackle, or 11-player – should be certified before walking on a field.

Today, parents can find more than 10,000 school-based and youth programs that put their children first with USA Football coaching standards supported by the strongest names in sports medicine. These include the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and others.

USA Football’s nationally endorsed youth tackle practice guidelines account for heat acclimatization and limit full contact. These guidelines encompass USA Football’s Levels of Contact – five levels that define and control a drill’s speed to teach skills – while reducing fatigue, which also can advance player safety.

More can and is being done to keep kids active and healthy on the field, playing the best version of the sport for them.

Scott Hallenbeck is the CEO of USA Football. As the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance, unify and grow the sport.