(HealthDay News) — There is no need to ban tackling from youth football, but players need the right training and supervision to cut their odds of injury, according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) presented at the academy’s annual meeting, held from Oct. 24 to 27 in Washington, D.C., and published online Oct. 25 in Pediatrics.
The AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness states that young players need to learn proper tackling techniques and, whenever possible, have guidance from certified athletic trainers at practices and games. The Council also suggests children be given more opportunities to play flag football and other tackle-free variants of the game.
Greg Landry, M.D., one of two lead authors of the policy statement, told HealthDay that this is the first time the group has come out with a policy directed specifically at tackling in youth football. Landry specializes in pediatric sports medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The policy statement was spurred by growing concerns over the potential consequences of sports-related concussions in young athletes — with football getting much of the attention. In the AAP’s research review, “we found no evidence that tackling should be banned from youth football,” Landry said.
Instead, the group stresses the importance of teaching young players proper tackling techniques. In addition, existing rules against dangerous, head-first tackles need to be strongly enforced. Another key step, according to the academy, is to have athletic trainers on the field during games and practice. Athletic trainers are educated in preventing, diagnosing, and rehabilitating injuries, and studies suggest their presence cuts players’ injury risk.