The title of this can be a little scary but the relavence to what I have seen should make sense. I have played football and been around the sport for years. It is by far the most physically demanding game out there.
With that, it is also very dangerous! American football requires men and boys who at times are physically under-developed to use their bodies to hit, block, and tackle one another. We all have heard of the concussion problems that exist in this sport.
What can we conclude from all this and why should we let our kids play the sport? Quite simply the game is fun, and the dynamics of the onfield strategies are unparalelled.
All tackle football players HAVE to be fully committed to be hit and make hits to one another every single game! We are not out there to hurt anyone and we are not out there coaching this either. If you want to coach this way go to MMA. We are also teaching and leading kids to understand that they will be hit and the protective instruction on how to take a hit is by far challenging but yet a top priority.
We can limit full tackles and hitting in practice to avoid injuries, but the game speeds up when you are playing an opponent. We have to have the full attention of an athlete each and every time the helmet and pads are put on! Knowing your role in a game and practice requires concentration and ability to put yourself in the correct positional situation at ALL times. Here are some key points that I see and how to get past all this.
Fear--- If your child or athlete is afraid they need to be honest with the coaches up front. If they talk to you as a parent please advise the coaches right away. Some positions in the game are less impact and maybe they can fit that role. Kids have pride, too, and maybe want to hold it in about this, but with fear comes the bodies response physically.
The athlete may tense up before a block or tackle and shy away from it only to cause poor mechanics and positioning. They are now more at risk to get injured. This may also cause the head to go down and they no longer can see or prepare properly for the impact. Let the athlete know that they will be ok and that the impact of the sport won't be hurtful if they can grasp the concept and/or technique.
Craziness---We have all seen the kid who has a motor that won't stop. They join football because they are fast and aggressive. Here to the athlete throws themselves into impact without a concern for anything except the highlght reel. They will put themselves at risk because they are out of position and will tackle or hit with form that is poor.
Kids get away with this at the early levels when they are out running others. As they get older and bigger the form to do it right is not there. I see alot of ankle and knee problems when they tackle off one side of the body with the other moving away. They also are never aware of their surroundings and with the single intent on one block or tackle they forget others are on the field. This too can lead to poor overall team performance as they negated thier positional responsibility. They also make tackles too high and this leads to horse collars and face mask penalties which are costly both physically to other players but also field position.
Personality---Some kids out there are the kids everyone says are the nice kids. This is great for personality at home and school, but you really have to develop an edge to you to play this game. You will hear terms like "get nasty" because this is used to help kids know its ok to hit safely, but also that a hit is coming.
Put a good block on someone and that other player will think twice about coming your way. There are also kids who just can't pay attention long enough or are absolutely defiant to instruction. These kids have to have a level of understanding the danders of this. I have seen the unattentive athlete not paying attention and BAMM his bell gets rung.
Head straight, eyes up,and stay focused on the game and practice at all times to avoid getting injured. Some kids are also very afraid to hurt someone else. If you are doing your job on the field and another player gets hurt without your intent, please know it was beyond your control and say a little prayer for them to get well.
Look at your child and see if these 3 points make sense.
I have seen kids quit this game because of the impact. What can you do to avoid this? Sometimes nothing because the hard reality is this game is not for everyone. If as a parent you played and your child who by the way is not YOU wants it more recheck your motives. It's OK to not play, but it is not OK to play with no concern for yourself or anyone else.
I encourage players every year who love the sport but hate the contact to join flag football. I also encourage kids who are already good and talented to do this to work on speed and ball throwing and catching skills in a environment without contact. Some kids play flag for years and all of a sudden grow and get bigger, and come back to tackle football with great sucess.
When the athlete is in high school, encourage them to work on the basics over and over again and to stay focused on this goal. Attend all the requried training sessions and work outside on your own. Our high school program has great sucess with these kids and yours can be one of them for 4 years if they totally commit to playing and working smart at this game.
Size of the athlete should not matter fully if you are strong positionally and have the needed footskills and great fundamentals. There is some great coaching in this area and use them as a resource for your athlete to improve. In the end if the improvement and desire is not there please consider another option to aviod getting injured, because this game may not be for everyone the way its currently set up American style.
Good luck players, parents, and coaches