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What is the Right Age to Start Youth Tackle Football?

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October 7th, 2021

Keenan Crow

When considering the right time for your child to start youth tackle football, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Many leagues introduce youth tackle football for players as young as five (5) years old, but some organizations recommend measures to avoid head impacts until later ages.

The brain is undergoing critical developmental processes during childhood and adolescence that may be compromised by repeated hits to the head. Young athletes tend to have weaker necks and torsos, which may make them more susceptible to these types of hits. However, other experts advocate learning to tackle properly while young - when players’ body weights and the forces of impact are generally less - is preferable for preventing injury when players are older.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t specify what age is appropriate to start tackle football, but DOES indicate the following; “Delaying the age at which tackling is introduced to the game would likely decrease the risk of these injuries.”

A recent report released by the Aspen Institute argues flag football should be standard until age 14. However, they went on to say fundamental tackling, blocking and hitting skills could be introduced in practice at age 12.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation states they "strongly recommend you delay enrolling your child in tackle football until the age of 14."

That being said, many other organizations have not established a recommendation regarding the age for starting youth tackle football, such as the: American Academy of Neurology, American Medical Association, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, National Alliance for Youth Sports, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and USA Football.

Ultimately, this decision remains up to parents and players. At Xenith, we're focused on one goal: creating protective gear that delivers unrivaled comfort and 5-Star protection for whenever a player chooses to strap on a helmet and shoulder pads and step on the field.

What is the right age to start youth tackle football?