Football Safety | Hillsborough Dukes Football & Cheer

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Leagues have options with how to structure their program. While leagues can continue the current structure where a player is placed in a division based on his or her age and weight, they may also instead choose to register players based on age only. Currently, an estimated 75-80% of youth football nationally follows an age-only structure.

Pop Warner places value on safety measures that make a difference. That’s why we have also done things in football like reduce contact to 25% of practice time, eliminate kickoffs for our youngest divisions and require that any player who suffers a suspected head injury receive medical clearance from a concussion specialist before returning to play.

Did you know that Pop Warner football is safer than soccer? Pop Warner's age-weight schematic protects younger, lighter players, creating lower injury rates.

  • Organized football among 5 – 15 year-olds has 12 percent fewer injuries per capita than organized soccer in the same age range
  • Organized football among 5 – 15 year-olds has 50 percent fewer injuries per capita than bicycle riding in the same age range.
  • Organized football among 5 – 15 year-olds has 74 percent fewer injuries per capita than skateboarding in the same age group.

The Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York completed a Pop Warner injury survey in 71 towns covering over 5,000 players in 1998. The injury experience of 5,128 boys (8 to 15 years of age, weight 22.5 to 67.5 kg [50 to 150 lb]) participating in youth football revealed an overall rate of significant injury of 5%, with 61% classified as moderate and 38.9% as major injuries. That's about 1.33 per team per year. No catastrophic injuries occurred, and it was rare for a permanent disability to result from any injury.


Players, parents and coaches often decide it's time to start strength and conditioning and many are looking for a proper program to follow. In order to minimize the risk of injury, players and parents must learn proper training techniques and consult with knowledgeable people in this field.

Safety, supervision, and proper instruction must be addressed.

Pre-exercise evaluation, preferably by a sports physician, is recommended before training young football players. There might be something in the family history like asthma that hasn't shown up yet. At these young ages, there are a lot of things going on in the body that need to be checked.

Once medical exams are complete, proper supervision becomes the focus. Basic standards for strength and conditioning that parents and coaches should keep in mind:

  • Always be there.
  • Be active and hands-on.
  • Be prudent, careful and prepared.
  • Be qualified.
  • Be vigilant.
  • Inform athletes of safety and emergency problems.
  • Know athletes' health status.
  • Monitor and enforce rules and regulations.
  • Monitor and study the environment.

The evaluation of any athlete, whether as a part of health evaluations prior to activity or as a diagnosis of an injury as the consequence of sports activities, is specific to that individual and the history and current state of the individual presented. Advice, diagnosis and treatment is individualized according to numerous factors, including patient health and age information, medical history and symptoms. All athletes should be cleared by a physician or other appropriate medical professional before engaging in physical activities and, after injury, diagnosis and treatment, for return to play.‚Äč