A new study – the first to examine the risks of concussion in youth football players ages 8-12 – provides some interesting findings.  Published in the Journal of Pediatricsresearchers from the University of Pittsburgh showed that:

  • The incidence of concussions occurring during practices is very small compared to those occurring during actual games.  It was 26 times more likely for the children in the study group to suffer a concussion in a game versus a practice.
  • Older players (11-12 year olds) had nearly three times more concussions than younger players (8-10 year olds), most likely due to their greater size, strength, and speed.
  • A majority of the concussions in young football players was due to head-to-head contact.
  • 95% of the concussions in the study involved the “skill” positions:  quarterback, running back, and linebacker.


The researchers’ take-home message:

Pop Warner, the largest (425,000 participants) youth football organization in the US, recently limited contact time to reduce concussion.6 The current study’s findings suggest that reducing contact exposures in youth football will likely have little effect on reducing concussion risk, as few concussions actually occur in practice. Practice is when tackling technique is taught and reinforced in a much safer environment than in games, where the incidence of concussion is higher than that in practice. Limiting practices in youth football may not only have little effect on reducing concussions but may also actually increase the incidence of concussions in games via reduced time learning proper tackling in practice. A better approach to reducing concussions in youth football may be to focus on awareness and education. 


Journal of Pediatrics article here.

More on The PediaBlog about concussions here.


(Image: Salvatore Vuono/