I would like to follow-up to my blog from last month on concussions in youth football that was titled, "Would You Let Your Child Play Youth Football?"
Last week the Pop Warner Youth Football League announced, starting with the 2012 season they will limit contact drills and ban full speed head on blocking and tackling drills when more then three yards apart during practices.
By establishing the new policy they become the first football league at any level to limit contact during practices. They site the same Virginia Tech study that I also sited in my blog. The new safety standards has the support of Alabama's Head Football Coach Nick Saban who stated, "It's not just contact that a player needs. It's a matter of knowing how to come out of a block, how to use your hands, all kinds of things you can learn without contact. In fact, if you learn to use your hands better, you don't need to use your head as much."
These rule changes only apply to Pop Warner Leagues. In Washington State only Eastern or Southern Washington have Pop Warner Leagues. In our local area we have the Valley Wolfpack Football which is part of the Greater Puget Sound Football League.
I did contact Valley Wolfpack League President Mr. Bill Luddy and asked what they do to protect their players from concussions. Mr. Luddy's response was, "Valley Wolfpack has always prided itself on the quality of the equipment that we provide for our players, all football franchises are required to recondition helmets every 3 years of use, which includes an x-ray to detect cracks, we never keep a helmet past the 5 year mark, weather it will still pass in reconditioning or not. All of our coaches are educated before, during and after each football season on head injuries, and concussion symptoms, as well as proper hitting techniques, we take injuries to our players very seriously."
With the Pop Warner League changing their standards for practices there is hope other youth leagues will soon follow. Just by adding these simple safe guards will go a long way in protecting their players.