Playing tackle football has its fair share of concerns, but it’s also a great way for your kids to learn sportsmanship, athleticism, and sports safety. There are different rules for different age groups to ensure that players are safe throughout every game and practice. Making sure that your kids are properly dressed in supportive and protective gear is the first and most important rule. Once they’re dressed to play, make sure they follow the rules for their age group.
Pee Wee Football
Beginners in football won’t ever see a tackle. At this age, their brains are still developing and it’s too dangerous to incorporate tackling into their game play. They will play touch or flag football at young ages, which will help them learn the basic concepts and techniques of the game.
School Team Football
When your child is old enough to play for their school, football becomes much more intense. Thankfully, there are rules in place to protect your kids from aggressive plays. With eleven players on the field for each team, there are offensive and defensive players. Defensive players can take any position and have free movement prior to the play, while offensive players have strict rules that define their position.
Once a play is in motion, the defense tries to prevent the offense from advancing along the field. Defense can stop a play by intercepting the ball, forcing the offense out of bounds, or tackling. Offense can also stop a play if there is an incomplete pass, not getting 10 yards in four downs, fumbling the ball, missing a field goal, or scoring.
Tackling to stop a play is when a defensive player attempts to stop an offensive player from advancing toward to the goal or getting them to drop the ball. When tackling, defensive players physically hold and wrestle the offensive player to the ground. However, it’s important that players do not grab feet, hands, or the face mask when tackling.
When tackling, players are not allowed to use their helmet to force their opponent down, cannot grab a player by the pads behind their neck, which is called horse collar method, nor can a player tackle a player who has thrown a forward pass after he no longer has possession of the ball. If a play is complete, players may not make any contact with another player or they are charged with unnecessary roughness.
While football is a contact sport, there are rules in place to protect players from harm. Tackling rules in middle school are the same as those in high school and beyond. These rules are in place to protect players from serious injuries that can have catastrophic results.
Encourage your football player to play safe, follow the rules, and not let their adrenaline or passion get the best of them.