I want to start out by saying that I do not hate flag football. I’ve coached spring flag football for almost as long as I have coached tackle youth football. This isn’t an attack on flag football, it’s an attack on the narrative that tackle youth football is unsafe for kids and that flag is the better option.
Here is Why Banning Tackle Football Before the age of 12 Makes No Sense
Kids won’t replace tackle football with flag….
The fact of the matter is that kids that play tackle football won’t play flag as a replacement. This past season I asked all 21 players on my team if they would play flag football as a replacement for tackle football in the fall. They all sad no! A couple kids said to me that I like flag football for the spring but come the fall, it’s tackle football time. Let’s not forget that flag football is even more so dangerous than tackle football. Flag will not prepare kids for high school football.
The idea that football players and parents will choose flag football over tackle is absurd. If you take away tackle football from kids 12 and under, they will go play something else or they won’t do anything at all. I’m not sure why these anti-football people think that kids will be happy with being allowed to play only flag football. Oh wait, I know why, they want to eliminate tackle football by removing it at the youth level. They know if they can eliminate tackle football at the youth level it will cut the legs out from under high school football, college football, and ultimately the NFL. Their smear campaign is focused on youth football so that they scare parents and label football as being unsafe for kids. If tackle football gets banned, kids will play tackle football in their neighborhood with no pads or instruction.
Regarding CTE in Youth Football: “The trouble is that the hysteria is outrunning facts.”
-Merril Hoge, BRAINWASHED, The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football (book).
Flag football will not prepare kids for high school football…
I have a couple of friends that coach high school football and they told me that the kids that played tackle youth football are much more prepared for high school football. They also said that kids that played youth football before high school are much stronger, faster, and are much more fundamentally sound. In addition, they said that their players’ bodies and necks are much more developed as their body has adapted and strengthened from wearing football equipment.
Don’t believe me? Fine, I don’t coach high school football, but these guys do:
I’m not currently a coach, but coached high school for 16 years.
1. For the most part yes. I didn’t play youth football, and always felt “behind” my first year compared to many of my friends who played for a long time.
2. Over 16 years, I’d say 60-70%.
— Chris Fore, MA, CAA (@CoachFore) May 19, 2019
A1 – Without question. Youth football prepares them for all phases of the game and coaches can definitely tell the kids who have played organized football before.
— Coach Ross (@MadDawgFBall) May 19, 2019
1-Yes if size is comparable…there are exceptions, but for the most part yes…
2-And its hard to say, but 50-60% for sure…
— Jonathan Grice (@CoachJGrice) May 19, 2019
I’m a HS football coach and the answer to your questions from my prospective are:
1. Is absolutely kids are more prepared if they play youth football
2. 80-85% of the kids on our team previously played youth football
— Cjhatcher07 (@cjhatcher07) May 19, 2019
1️⃣ I think the big caveat is it depends on the coaching they received up to the HS level. They should be but I wouldn’t throw a blanket on that statement.
2️⃣ I believe approx 85+% of our HS roster is made up of kids from youth, both weighted and unweighted leagues.
— Chad Harter (@coachHarter) May 19, 2019
1) I believe that having kids play youth football will benefit them mentality, improve their tenchique, and build up their confidence as a player as long as their youth coaches are teaching them the fundamentals of the game and teaching the drills/skills that are age appropriate
— Anthony Stone (@Coach_Stone_MT) May 20, 2019
2) I would say about 95 percent of them if you are asking for a percentage. The other 5 percent wished they played sooner. Couldn’t fit both answers on one tweet
— Anthony Stone (@Coach_Stone_MT) May 20, 2019
It definitely helps to have youth football experience. Probably 70% of our guys played youth ball
— Coach Mac (@CoachMac8740) May 19, 2019
Flag football doesn’t teach the fundamentals needed to play tackle…
Playing flag football doesn’t develop many skills and techniques that kids need to play tackle. Anyone that has been around football knows this. Flag football doesn’t teach the kids how to block, run the football, tackle, or take on blocks. Teaching kids how to block and tackle from an early age will greatly reduce the risk of head injuries. The new tackling and blocking techniques literally take the head out of the play. Kids no longer are taught to “bite the ball” or get “head across the body” when tackling.
Tackling systems like hawk tackling and USA Football Heads Up teach kids how to tackle and block properly and without using their head. The anti-football people push the narrative that kids are involved in hundreds of head collisions throughout a season, which just isn’t true. If these people actually attended some practice and games and did the certifications that all coaches have to do, they’d realize that repetitive head impacts just aren’t happening. Everyone knows that hitting your head over and over isn’t good. You don’t need to be a doctor to understand that. However, those repetitive head collisions aren’t occurring on the youth football level. It blows my mind how misinformed and uneducated some people are in regards to football, especially the politicians that are pushing to ban tackle football.
What about the big guys?
Have you been to a flag football game? If so, you will notice that there aren’t many big kids playing flag. Flag football is all about route running and catching. There aren’t any offensive linemen on the flag football field, nor do they have an interest in playing flag. So if you take away tackle youth football it will affect the kids that aren’t built for flag football. In addition, tackle football is the only sport many of these kids are playing, so if you take it away, they will end up doing nothing. When kids have nothing to do that’s when they get themselves into trouble and their physical health diminishes.
In middle and high school football the offensive and defensive line is the key to success. Having the heavier kids wait to play tackle football will not prepare them for high school football. They won’t learn the techniques, they won’t develop the strength and muscle memory, and they won’t have a feel for the game. Starting at a younger age will keep the bigger kids active and it will prepare them for high school football. In addition, the earlier linemen play football the better the entire team will be. We all know that the success of any football team is determine by the play at the line of scrimmage. The more inexperienced line players will directly impact your skilled positions production.
The fact of the matter is that the bigger kids are playing one sport and that is tackle youth football. If you take that sport away from them the vast majority of these kids won’t do or play anything else.
Related Content: 7 Awesome Reasons Why Kids Should Play Football
Teamwork, social skills, physical fitness…
Football is the ultimate team sport. There’s no other sport that relies on teamwork more than football. There are 22 players on the field at once. That means 11 players on each team must work together in order to be successful. This teaches kids how to work with their teammates in an effort to achieve a TEAM goal. Tackle football teaches kids how to communicate with their coaches and teammates. Tackle football is a sport that requires all people involved to be great communicators (coaches, players, and even parents). Tackle football teaches kids how to compete and how to work hard to achieve goals. In addition, it helps develop coordination and it will also help grow their confidence.
The anti-football people will say- “Well flag is a team sport and those are traits that can be learned in flag and/or in other sports.” I say, no flag football doesn’t teach those traits. Flag football doesn’t require the amount of practice time and physical fitness training football does. Flag football doesn’t require a high level of communication and teamwork. The reality is that flag football is mostly an individual sport. The fastest kid thrives and everyone else doesn’t really contribute. Most flag games are laid back and they don’t force the kids to compete. There is no techniques being taught that translate to tackle football. Skills like teamwork, communication, effort, and competitiveness aren’t being taught in flag football. Flag does very little to teach the physical, mental, and technical aspects of tackle football. Having kids wait until they are 12 to play tackle will not help them. Also, will flag coaches be required to complete safety training? Any certifications?
Under served communities will greatly be affected…
Banning tackle football will have the greatest impact on the urban areas of our country. Every community in our country would suffer, but urban areas would suffer much more. With so many single parent homes (this is the situation in all communities not just urban ones) many mothers rely on tackle football programs. The kids in these areas aren’t playing flag football. They won’t play flag football as a replacement for tackle football. Kids 12 and under need structure. Many kids need the guidance they receive from their tackle football coaches. Again, tackle football requires weekly practices and games on the weekends. So the kids are spending their time in structured environments that will keep them off of the streets and away from bad influences.
Some kids can’t wait until their 12 years old or older to play tackle football. Many kids need the structure much younger than 12, when they are the most gullible. Not only does it benefit the kids technically and physical to start football earlier, it in some situations saves and changes their life. The earlier you get kids on track, the more likely they will be able to rise above the streets. Let’s not forget that athletes perform much better in school. There are some people that will not agree with me. My response will be to tell them to go to an inner city and ask the kids that are under 12 if they would they be willing to play flag football instead of tackle. I’d bet that most of these kids wouldn’t want their tackle football replaced by flag. Football serves as an escape from difficult situations for many of these kids. I’d also ask these politicians to go to the urban areas they represent and ask parents how tackle football has help their child.
Related Content: Benefits of Playing Tackle Youth Football