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Why Flag Football Headgear is Essential for Youth Leagues

Posted by Tim

While flag football is enjoyable, protecting the head and neck is essential. That’s why more and more leagues are requiring headgear for all players.

Youth tackle football athletes take more high-magnitude head impacts than their flag football counterparts. The CDC reports that kids who play tackle football experience about 15 times more high-magnitude impacts than those who play flag football.

Protects the Head

In addition to the obvious safety reasons, flag football headgear also provides athletes with a much-needed extra layer of protection. Some youth leagues require that players wear helmets during their games and practice sessions.

A company in Seattle makes a top-rated helmet for tackle football and introduced a youth version last year. Now, the company is making a helmet for flag football that will reduce the risk of concussions.

The company took the liner from its hard shell helmet. It put it through impact tests conducted at Virginia Tech, the independent testing lab most entities look at when testing safety products.

The research showed that while youth flag football players received fewer significant hits to their heads than tackle football players, they still took minor hits when grabbing flags. These impacts can cause severe brain injuries, and the risk of a concussion is high when playing flag football without proper equipment.

Prevents Concussions

Concussions are one of the most debilitating and fatal injuries for athletes. While helmets have been a staple in the sport for decades, they don’t always prevent head injuries.

Often, helmets offer just a thin layer of padding to protect the head from high-impact blows. However, studies show that this level of cushioning isn’t sufficient to reduce the risk of concussions.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati put popular football helmets from four leading manufacturers through impact testing. They found no single design demonstrated a superior reduction of potential concussion incidence or consistent energy absorption at every part of the helmet.

Flag football is the fastest-growing youth sport in the nation. A proper fit of flag football headgear is essential to ensure that your youth leagues play safely.

To keep players healthy and safe, many youth football coaches have been teaching new tackling techniques like “Hawk tackling” or teaching players to wrap and roll instead of going in head first. This new approach reduces the likelihood of a concussion and other serious head injuries.

Researchers at Virginia Tech conducted impact testing of flag football headgear and found that it is a game-changer for concussion prevention. Their STAR evaluation system rated 12 different products and found that headgear with more stars offers a reduced risk of concussion compared to helmets with fewer stars.

This study also found that youth tackle football athletes sustained 15 times more head impacts during practice and 23 times more hard head impacts during a game than their counterparts in flag football. This is an alarming finding for parents, coaches and other sports professionals trying to protect children from concussion risks.

Prevents Neck Injuries

With no hard or sharp components that can snag or scrape other players, flag football pads and helmets protect against impact-related injuries. They prevent head impacts that have life-altering effects, like concussions and skull fractures. Youth leagues nationwide are starting to see a trend attracting more kids to flag football than tackle football. New studies show that tackle football can cause concussions and neck injuries.

This has caused parents to think twice about letting their kids play tackle. However, participation will continue to grow if youth leagues equip their players with proper gear like flag football headgear.

Moreover, if coaches teach players proper technique – like tackling – and condition them to handle the pressure of flag football, they should be able to prevent many neck injuries.

But, like their tackle football counterparts, young players will still encounter some severe hits in a flag football game. These impacts can cause severe sprains and strains on the muscles in the neck.

Prevents Head Injuries

Using state-of-the-art technology a manufacturer which makes the highest-rated helmets for tackle football and also introduced a youth version of their headgear, is rolling out a product for flag football. The company wants to create a helmet suitable for children to use in the fast-growing sport, surpassing 7 million kids playing. The Southern Maryland Youth Flag Football League recently changed its rules to require players to wear helmets. 

Research has shown that youth athletes who play tackle football are exposed to more head impacts and are at a higher risk for high-magnitude impacts than flag football athletes. This may lead to greater concussion risk among youth football athletes, making it an attractive alternative for 6- to 14-year-olds playing tackle or flag football.

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) tests helmets to determine whether they meet a standard performance threshold of 1200 SI by at least three statistical standard deviations in all demanding impact locations. Once that threshold is completed, there is no measurable difference in injury risk based on a difference in SI scores.

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