BOSTON (AP) — Fewer than 4 percent of youth players surveyed in a USA Football-sanctioned study suffered concussions in the 10 leagues examined.
Most injuries among nearly 2,000 players on more than 100 teams in six states were minor, with the youngsters returning to play the same day. More than 90 percent of the players did not suffer any injuries, and of those who did, the most common were contusions (35 percent) and ligament sprains (15 percent).
No catastrophic head, neck or heat-related injuries were reported.
Indianapolis-based Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention conducted the study in Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia.
"We need more studies like this across all of youth sports," said Dr. Patrick Kersey, a physician at St. Vincent Sports Performance and USA Football medical director. "Such a commitment to research is how we advance player safety, determine best practices and continue football's evolution, which has always been part of the game's legacy. Our hope is that more sports will take similar steps for their young athletes."
As USA Football, the governing body for the sport in the United States, begins the second year of its examination of player health and safety, it is stressing its Heads Up Football program that has been approved by the NFL. Heads Up Football emphasizes proper tackling technique — keep your head up — along with concussion recognition and response; coaching certifications; properly fitted equipment; and coaches trained to implement the program.
Approximately 2.8 million children ages 6-14 play organized youth tackle football.
"The health and safety of every youth football player is our No. 1 priority," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "For the millions of children across the country who gain the physical, social and psychological rewards that youth football provides, this ground-breaking research will enable us to make the sport better and safer with scientifically gathered information."