Sure Shots
New CDC study compares head impacts in youth tackle and flag football

New CDC study compares head impacts in youth tackle and flag football

3/2/2021

A new CDC study in Sports Health reports youth tackle football athletes, ages 6 to 14, sustained 15 times more head impacts than flag football athletes during a practice or game and sustained 23 times more high-magnitude (hard) head impacts. Head impacts increase the risk for concussion and other serious head injuries.

Key findings from the study “Head impact exposures among youth tackle and flag American football athletes” include:

  • Youth tackle football athletes experienced a median of 378 head impacts per athlete during the season.
  • Flag football athletes experienced a median of eight head impacts per athlete during the season.

These findings suggest that non-contact or flag football programs are a safer alternative for reducing head impacts, and thus concussion risk, for youth football athletes under age 14.

Healthcare providers may consider these findings when consulting with youth and parents during football pre-participation medical exams, especially those athletes with an increased risk for concussion (such as athletes with a history of concussion).

Other ways to protect athletes:

  • Enforce fair play and sportsmanship
  • Limit tackling and collisions
  • Discourage unsafe or illegal actions/plays

For more information visit: Comparing Head Impacts in Youth Tackle and Flag Football.

Additional Resources

Check out the CDC HEADS UP free online trainings on concussion: coaches, school professionals, and healthcare providers.


CDC Study Brain Injury Safety Health Football Concussion

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