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What is the Right Age to Start Tackle Football?

When considering when to put your child into tackle football, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Many leagues introduce tackle football for players as young as 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 head hits. Young athletes tend to have weaker necks and torsos, which may make them more susceptible to head hits. However, other experts advocate that 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 indicates that “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 that flag football should be standard until age 14, and that fundamental tackling, blocking and hitting skills could be introduced in practice at age 12.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation states that it “strongly recommends you delay enrolling your child in tackle football until the age of 14.”

However, many other organizations have not established a recommendation regarding the age for starting 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, our goal is to make the best protective gear for whenever a player chooses to play.