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NFT: Age to start playing tackle football?

AJ23 : 6/12/2024 3:50 pm
My 7 year old son played flag football with a group of kids this spring and they really enjoyed playing together. Now all the kids are going to play tackle in the summer and even though I'm far from the 'never' crowd, 7 years old seems super aggressive to me.

It's going to annoy him when I tell him we're going to hold him out, but that's the direction I'm leaning after I went through one page of the registration form and it required I enter insurance and physician information.

Genuinely curious if there's any legitimate argument FOR kids to start playing tackle football that young.
up to the parent  
Sec_149 : 6/12/2024 3:55 pm : link
it is an interesting conversation. 7 is young to me, but if coached correctly, there is little chance they will really get hurt. The contact is kind of funny, since they really don't hit hard.

That being said, after coaching tackle football at the youth level for a little over 10 years, I would be hesitant to allow a kid to play until 4th or 5th grade. That is my opinion.

Just for the record, I spent those years coaching kids in grades 3-6.
For my son?  
rsjem1979 : 6/12/2024 3:56 pm : link
in our small town...  
IchabodGiant : 6/12/2024 4:01 pm : link
they start playing in 3rd grade.
I would start as late as possible  
RAIN : 6/12/2024 4:05 pm : link
and invest time in other sports as well. Keep the flag going as long as they are interested.

RE: I would start as late as possible  
Sec_149 : 6/12/2024 4:25 pm : link
In comment 16535567 RAIN said:
and invest time in other sports as well. Keep the flag going as long as they are interested.

I agree 100%. I really believe that kids before high school should play as many sports as they can. It is better for their body, and it may open them up to something they truly enjoy.
RE: For my son?  
Matt123 : 6/12/2024 4:26 pm : link
In comment 16535561 rsjem1979 said:

Same for me. I don't understand the question- I suspect it gets more dangerous as they get older...I don't want him ever starting.

Flag football is a nice option. My son's league was quite competitive. This wasn't an option when I was a kid, I only played football in the backyard.

Pete in MD : 6/12/2024 4:49 pm : link
don't kill my dream.
I started at 12  
widmerseyebrow : 6/12/2024 5:19 pm : link
Played two years of youth football before playing all four years in high school. I'd say playing youth football gave me a slight edge on the guys that started playing freshman year of high school, but by the time varsity rolls around it comes down to genetics and dedication to the offseason/weight program.

I know a guy who played with Steven Jackson (oregon state and Rams star) in pop warner and said he was pretty sorry back then and didn't even start. Conversely I knew a number of guys who were the stud athletes in middle school who never grew up.

As far as the safety aspect goes with CTE, I often wonder about it now, but I wouldn't say anything I did in youth football made any difference there. I didn't get a concussion until summer camp of my senior year.
But to answer your question re: 7 years old  
widmerseyebrow : 6/12/2024 5:28 pm : link
Seems like there's more downside than upside there. The collisions aren't going to be really big at that level, but there's always a handful of kids in the league that are more advanced physically.
RE: But to answer your question re: 7 years old  
jtfuoco : 6/12/2024 6:01 pm : link
In comment 16535602 widmerseyebrow said:
Seems like there's more downside than upside there. The collisions aren't going to be really big at that level, but there's always a handful of kids in the league that are more advanced physically.

I agree with both of your positions and is my plan for when my kids get to that age.
Giantsbigblue : 6/12/2024 6:11 pm : link
Like a young age for kids to play tackle. I'd stick with flag. I couldn't even imagine trying to teach a 7 year old how to block or properly form tackle.
SFGFNCGiantsFan : 6/12/2024 6:46 pm : link
My mother was adamant that I would never play football so it was XC & soccer for me. The wife & I haven't even had the convo re. our son because he's all of 1, but I'm sure we will one day. If he wants to play, I'm not going to stop him, but I suspect my wife will put the kibosh on it.
Wait until high school  
Aaroninma : 6/12/2024 7:18 pm : link
I played one year of pop warner as a 6th grader. Bad coaching, bad experience

In my HS, 8th grade has its own team, so i played then. Played throug high school and into college.

I adore football and think kids should play, but 7 is too young. 12-13 is a good place to start. Flag football is great when younger

I think High School is the right time  
RobCrossRiver56 : 6/12/2024 8:40 pm : link
You will find out quickly if you are developed enough to compete. Everybody ages differently..
Just to put this out there for parents in the thread  
Semipro Lineman : 6/12/2024 8:55 pm : link
Several of my former teammates have coached youth football and I have heard a lot of good things about the USA Football Heads Up program. I think it's a good idea to check if the coaches you're dealing with are certified.
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7 is fine  
Dankbeerman : 6/12/2024 9:32 pm : link
so is 8,9,10 or 15 for that matter. Make sure he can handle the responsability of protecting himself.

Age overal dosent matter but for each player it does. they have to comit to playing the right way. The rules are more structured the younger you play.

My son is entering his 4th year of tackle this fall as 10 year old. He played 1 year of fall flag and plays flag in the spring. The collisions in flag are just as hard and nobody is prepared for contact and they have no protection.

The questions you need to ask is do you want him to play the game at all? And do you trust him to protect himself?
There's a real risk of absoiute shit coaching at the youth levels  
Heisenberg : 6/13/2024 8:50 am : link
For me, it would depend on how the coaches coach and the league is run. But 7 seems really young, especially because injuries are likely and 7 seems pretty young to be dealing with that. They're just a lot more common in football for obvious reasons.

My son played baseball and basketball growing up and was always better suited for football athletically (big and a bit slow lol). He was interested in football when he was 8-9 but I didn't like the coaches in our town or how they ran the team. They would come to practices and try to recruit him. We held them off and when he was 12, they came back. This time, I gave him the option and he didn't want to play. Too many of his friends had gotten hurt and missed time in baseball and basketball.

So my recommendation would be hold off for now and revisit when he's older. If my son had decided to play, I'd have been concerned for his health but he'd be older and more ready to deal with a coach who's an asshole and a bit more able to protect himself on the field.
I started  
SoZKillA : 6/13/2024 9:08 am : link
at 7. Times were also different 23 years ago.
A lot of factors  
Svengali : 6/13/2024 9:49 am : link
My son started in 9th grade at high school but, small town in CO. If we were living back in Dallas he never would have been able to play because he would have been to far behind all the other kids that have been playing since 3 rd grade. Good coaches teach proper tackling so another big factor. Tough decision for every parent.
Joey in VA : 6/13/2024 9:51 am : link
The brain is still very susceptible to trauma prior to early teen years. I'd ask your child's pediatrician before making a decision.
we played tackle football unorganized our whole childhood without  
gtt350 : 6/13/2024 1:35 pm : link
equipment, we were fine, grass stains and and occasional bruise
RE: in our small town...  
Alan W : 6/14/2024 11:29 am : link
In comment 16535565 IchabodGiant said:
they start playing in 3rd grade.

sounds about right
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