Deciphering the statistics
American Youth Football (AYF) is the largest youth football organization in the U.S. and represents a wide cross section of participants aged 5 to 15. Between 2005-2018, AYF’s endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance, has collected information on 4,534 injuries. Each injury was analyzed based on 20 different categories and data was input and reports were generated to illustrate the injuries occurring in each category. Reports from the time periods 2005-2012 and 2013-2018 were compared to reveal trends and it was found that the results were surprisingly consistent. Any significant trend changes will be noted under the category descriptions below.
AYF constantly reviews and monitors this information in an effort to better protect its participants. Should a particular area of concern come to light, more detailed reports can be run to determine if a problem exists that needs additional attention. For example, when concerns arose over the potential dangers of age-only vs. age/weight categories, a report was run that indicated that the risks of injuries in age-only weight categories was about the same as age/weight categories. As regards concussion concerns, AYF will track the frequency of concussions to total injuries over time to determine the impact of parent/player education, coach training on concussion recognition, return to play policies, and improved tackling techniques .
Due to the limitation of this study, it tends to understate minor injuries that were never reported and tends to overstate the more serious injuries that required medical treatment. However, it does represent a statistically significant overview of the frequency of injuries that occur within AYF and youth tackle football as a whole.
Below is a summary of the leading injury statistics by frequency in each category:
Absence From Play
|1 – 3 weeks||20%|
Note that many of the less serious injuries were never reported as insurance claims. As a result this category tends to overstate the length of time of absence from play.
Activity While Injured
|Running with ball||32%|
|Running without ball||6%|
Body Part Injured
Note that head/temple as a percentage of total injuries increased from 10% (2005-2012) to 16% (2013-2018) due to the increased attention being given to concussions.
Note that the percentage of fractures tends to be overstated since many of the less serious injuries (sprains, bruise/contusions, cuts/scrapes, pulled muscles) are not serious enough to be reported as insurance claims. Also note that concussions as a percentage of total injuries increased from 9% (2005-2012) to 16% (2013-2018). The reason for this increase is because of the increased awareness, reporting, and treatment being sought for concussions.
Location On Field
Injury Occurred During
A common misconception is that most injuries in youth tackle football occur during practice. The results clearly indicate that most occur during games. Furthermore, only 28% of concussions occur during practice.
Type Of Play
|Receiving kick off||2%|
Note that very few injuries occur during kickoff returns. Therefore, the kickoff rule changes implemented by the NCAA and NFL to limit concussions during kickoffs would not be as beneficial in youth tackle football.
|Tackled by player||28%|
|Contact with ground||16%|
|Fell on/stepped on||15%|
|Collision with opponent||6%|
|Blocked by player||5%|
|Collision with teammate||4%|
|Blocked from behind||1%|