Last week National Pop Warner announced new rules geared towards helping kids stay safe on the field.
The rules, which become official as of the 2012 season, make Pop Warner the first youth football organization to limit contact during practices. According to the Pop Warner website, “are a result of the advice of our Medical Advisory Board and the direct input of Pop Warner regional and local administrators and coaches.”
Effective immediately the rules are as follows:
- No full speed head-on blocking or tackling drills in which the players line up more than 3 yards apart are permitted. (Having two linemen in stances immediately across the line of scrimmage from each other and having full-speed drills where the players approach each other at an angle, but not straight ahead in to each other are both permitted.)
However, there should be no intentional head-to-head contact!
- The amount of contact at each practice will be reduced to a maximum of 1/3 of practice time (either 40 minutes total of each practice or 1/3 of total weekly practice time). In this context, “contact” means any drill or scrimmage in which drills; down line vs. down line full-speed drills; and scrimmages.
In addition there are new blocking and tackling guidelines also:
- In addition to other specific prohibitions in the National Federation and NCAA rulebooks, no butt blocking, chop blocking, face tackling or spearing techniques shall be permitted.
The new rules, which were created to help curb the growing problem of concussions, will require changes to traditional practices and, in many cases, reeducation for local coaches.
For Wilmington Pop Warner, however, player safety has always been a number one priority and any changes that may help are willingly accepted. As WPW President Deb Smith explained, “The safety of our kids is always our biggest concern and our number one priority.”
Last year WPW purchased eighty Schutt DNA Pro plus Elite helmets and, with the help of former Wilmington Firefighter Dan Stewart, hosted a concussion seminar geared towards educating players, parents and coaches as to the dangers of traumatic brain injury.
The seminar, which was geared towards a “mixed audience”, focused on the basics of concussion including recognition, response and diagnosis. Together with the new helmets, the seminar simply reinforced WPW’s commitment to its athletes.
The new regulations are, as Smith explained, another opportunity for WPW to continue keeping kids safe.
“All WPW coaches are required to attend Coaches training geared towards the safety of our participants,” Smith said. “This year in light of all the new rules regarding amount of contact and acceptable coaching drills all of our coaches will attend several concussion information/awareness seminars.”
As any Pop Warner parent knows, August 1 is right around the corner, which means the kick off the season is as well. This year, when players take to the field to practice, their parents will know that, as always, WPW, along with National Pop Warner are doing everything possible to ensure their safety and well being.