Post by joekennedy on Dec 18, 2007 12:20:15 GMT -6
Do you or ASMI have a statement or opinion on the following:
In youth football, such as Pop Warner, American Youth Football, etc., there are established age/weight divsions of play. There are provisions for "older/lighter" players. For example, a 12 year old player, who weighs less than 105 pounds, may play on the 11 year old team, who can weigh up to 125 pounds. Or, the same 12 year old player, at 105 pounds or less, could play with other 12 year olds on the 12 year old team, who can weigh up to 145 pounds.
Would you consider it safer, injury wise, for that 105 pound, 12 year old player to play with the 11 year old team or with the heavier 12 year old team?
We are trying to determine if is it safer for the smaller kids in any age group, to be able to play in a one year younger age group, or to simply play age-appropriate.
Thanks for your reply, Joe Kennedy Director of Football Nashoba Youth Football
Post by Jeff Webb, M.D. on Feb 8, 2008 8:20:36 GMT -6
Thank you for your question.
We don't have any evidence that says for sure that lighter players should play down an age group. There is not a whole lot of research in this area, but the few studies we do have tell us a little about injuries in youth football. First, serious injuries are rare. Most of the injuries in youth football are bruises and sprains. Injury risk goes up dramatically in high school, college, and professional football compared to youth. In fact, the only factor that is definitely associated with an injury risk is increased age and experience.
The Mayo Clinic did a study of youth football in 2002 that actually suggested that HEAVIER players may be more at risk for injuries. While these results weren't statistically significant, certainly the lighter players were not injured more.
Remember, force=mass x velocity. So the reason college and pro players get hurt is that the linebackers are 250 pounds AND run a 4.3 40-yard dash. As players get older they run faster and hit harder. Youth players who are bigger don't neccessarily impact with any more force. I suppose an ideal youth football league could measure a player's force of impact and group players by this quality, but that is virtually impossible to do.
So, in conclusion there is no perfect answer to your question. Since the largest youth football organizations use an age/weight matrix, this is generally accepted and is a reasonable format. But, in actuallity lighter players would likely be safe with their own age group.