Study: Most youth football head injuries happen before kickoff - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Study: Most youth football head injuries happen before kickoff

Nine 11-year-olds wore special helmets that record how hard each player is hit. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Nine 11-year-olds wore special helmets that record how hard each player is hit. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Between every touchdown celebration, coaches and parents are becoming increasingly worried about preventing concussions in young football players.  

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A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center reveals most head injuries occur before kickoff even happens.

Researchers collected data by having nine 11-year-olds wear special helmets that record how hard each player is hit. Players wore the helmets during every practice for one season, while researchers focused on 11 specific practice drills - dummy/sled tackling, install, special teams, multi-player tackle, Oklahoma, one-one-one, open field tackling, passing, position skill work, scrimmage, and tackling station. During a total of 30 practices, 2,100 hits were hard enough to register data. 

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Open field tackling had fewer head impacts compared to other drills, but the hits were harder, with higher magnitude. Players were hit more during the multi-player tackle drill, but with the least amount of force. The study also found most of the 2,100 hits occurred at the top of the helmet, which researchers said indicates improper tackling technique.

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It's important to point out researchers only collected data on nine players and for one season. They say additional tests need to be done, because, as WAVE 3 News has reported before, concussions have long term impacts on a players health.

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