Coach education helps prevent serious football injuries

By Rebecca Burton • Published: October 12th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

An estimated 3 million children between the ages of 7 and 14 play tackle football each year. Although team sports are a great way for children to exercise and learn social skills, playing tackle football at a young age has been a controversial topic among parents, coaches and doctors.

Football poses a high risk for head injuries and doctors warn that serious injuries at a young age could cause lasting effects into adulthood. A study conducted by researchers at the Datalys (data-liss) Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention found that educating coaches about injury prevention and contact restrictions reduces the number of injuries among players.

To conduct the study, the researchers tracked injury rates among youth football players throughout the 2014 season. Injuries during both practices and games were recorded. The players tracked were from four states: Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Carolina.

Teams were divided into three groups: teams with no coach education program, teams using a Heads-Up education program, and teams using the Pop Warner Football education program, which was designed to educate coaches about contact restrictions.

In total, 370 injuries were reported. The groups with the coach education programs had the lowest practice injury rates compared to those teams with no education program. Both education programs were both found to be effective, and injury rates did not differ greatly between the two.

The lead author of the study said that the findings show that more educational coaching programs are needed in teams across the U.S. The author added that future research should investigate how different programs work in different sports and at various levels of competition.