USA Football, the national governing body for amateur American football in the U.S. and a member of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), received support Tuesday from two leading sports medicine organizations.
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) and the Sports Neuropsychology Society (SNS) both publicly expressed support for USA Football’s eight recommendations for youth tackle football, according to a press release first obtained by Fox News.
Some of USA Football’s recommendations, first instituted in March, include strictly defining the levels of contact and limiting the time spent conducting full contact in preseason and regular-season practices; prohibiting certain drills, like the Oklahoma drill; and recommending the use of the two-point stance.
“Education is a primary pillar of our mission, which changes behavior for the better for athletes at every age,” Dr. Jason Matuszak, an AMSSM board member, said in a news release. “The forward-thinking and care exhibited by USA Football are what every leader in athletics – especially in children’s sports – would do well to emulate. The AMSSM enthusiastically affirms these recommendations for youth football play.”
Munro Cullum, the president of SNS, added: “When a sport’s national governing body is dedicated to the whole health of its athletes, particularly the youngest, it melds science and expert analysis as USA Football has done here. It is our hope that parents, schools and youth leagues join us in recognizing the value of USA Football’s recommendations for safer play, optimal skill development, and just healthier kids who deserve the highest caliber of playing standards.”
The American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute endorsed USA Football’s recommendations on March 31.
USA Football recommended certain practice lengths and times per week practices can be held based on age. Athletes between the ages of 5 and 7 are recommended to practice between 30 and 60 minutes a day one to two times per week. Youth athletes 8 and older can practice 60 to 90 minutes one to three times per week; athletes 10 and up can practice 75 to 105 minutes two to three times per week; and those 12 through junior high school are recommended to practice between 90 and 120 minutes about two to three times per week.
USA Football recommended that youth programs prohibit the Board Drill, Bull in the Ring/King of the Circle, Oklahoma Drill and 3-Spot without a run/pass read. The organization said programs are encouraged to instruct use of the two-point stance for those at the noncontact, limited-contact or modified-contact level. Programs on the full-contact level should encourage players on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage to use the two-point stance.
The organization added that full-contact practices shouldn’t be held on consecutive days. and no more than one full-contact game or live-action scrimmage is recommended per week. In the postseason, USA Football said it is recommended a minimum of at least three days between full-contact games.
Additionally, USA Football recommended programs should limit the amount of contact during practices to no more than 60 minutes per week and no more than 30 minutes per day during the regular season.
The initial recommendations were developed in collaboration with USA Football’s Task Force on Athlete Health and Wellness.