Study: Youth flag football may not be safer than tackle

Researchers have found that injuries are more likely to occur in youth flag football than youth tackle football.

By Amy Wallace

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A new study from the University of Iowa Health Care has found that youth flag football may not be safer than youth tackle football.

A team of UI researchers studied three large youth football leagues with nearly 3,800 participants comparing the number of injuries, severe injuries and concussions in players on flag and tackle football teams.


Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of injury among children and adolescents.

Results showed injuries were more likely to occur in flag football than in tackle football, however, there was no significant difference in the severity of the injuries between the two groups.

"We wanted to test the hypothesis that not allowing tackling might reduce the risk for injury in young athletes," Dr. Andrew Peterson, a specialist with UI Sports Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a press release. "Based on our results, we cannot conclude that youth flag football is safer than youth tackle football."

Results of the study showed that the number of injuries in youth football overall were relatively low, considering about 2.8 million youth age 6 to 14 participate in youth football in the United States.


"We hope that this information will help families as they make decisions about a child's participation in youth football, either in flag or tackle leagues," Peterson said.

The study was published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

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