Pop Warner: A Better, Safer Game.
On fields across America, Pop Warner is making our game safer and better, while retaining what makes the sport so wonderful for young people. And we’re doing the same for our young athletes in cheer and dance.
Pop Warner places value on safety measures that make a difference. That’s why we have done things in football like reduce contact to 25% of practice time, eliminate kickoffs for our youngest divisions and require that any player who suffers a suspected head injury receive medical clearance first and then follow BPW's strict injury return guidelines before returning to play.
Giving our coaches the tools they need to teach the game the right way enhances those efforts. So we made USA Football’s Heads Up Football training mandatory for all Pop Warner coaches and team moms because a well-educated coach is critical to a safer football experience. Similarly, we require our cheer coaches to take the YCADA training. And we’re guided by an independent Medical Advisory Committee of neurosurgeons, sports medicine professionals, pediatricians and researchers.
To ensure that Pop Warner stays on the forefront of health and safety issues and any medical developments that may affect our young athletes, Pop Warner formed an independent Medical Advisory Committee in 2010. Led by neurosurgeons, researchers, pediatricians and sports medicine professionals, the committee is focused on the prevention, proper identification and treatment of concussions; hydration awareness and proper nutrition guidelines; and general health and safety issues.
We think sports like football, cheer and dance offer so much to young person, from a fun, physically active lifestyle and a sense of teamwork to valuable life lessons like perseverance and sacrifice. To make it possible for them to enjoy those experiences we will never stop working to try and make football, cheerleading and dance safer.
In this section, you will find helpful information for a variety of subjects including concussion awareness, hydration, training techniques, injury prevention, risk management and proper equipment.
Player Safety Measures Instituted by Pop Warner
February 28, 2019: Pop Warner became the first national football organization of any kind to eliminate the three-point stance. The ban, which will be introduced in Pop Warner’s three youngest divisions this season, is aimed at changing how offensive and defensive linemen engage in contact when the ball is snapped. Under the new rule, players in Tiny Mite (5-7 years old), Mitey Mite (7-9) and Junior Pee Wee (8-10) will not be allowed to position themselves on the line with their hand on the ground before the snap. Instead, they must either be upright or in a modified squat position with their hands on their legs.
By moving away from the three-point stance at our youngest levels we are changing how players are introduced to the sport and how they learn to play the game. We are also setting the stage for our higher levels of play to adopt the change.
As Doctor Bailes explained: “ Eliminating the three-point stance should lessen the amount of force between linemen and we expect it will cut down on unintentional helmet contact at the line."
Pop Warner was the first national football organization at any level to ban kickoffs. Instead of kicking the ball off, our four youngest groups (5-11 years old) will start with the ball at the 35 yard line after a score or to start a half.
To teach kids how to better recognize if they or a teammate have suffered a concussion, Pop Warner is partnering with leading researchers from Stanford University to offer all players, parents and coaches access to CrashCourse, an interactive concussion education program that will help them identify when they or another player suffers a concussion.
Pop Warner partners with USA Football to offer Rookie Tackle, a program to help kids transition from Flag Football to 11-player tackle. The version is played on a smaller field with fewer players and is meant to introduce the sport. It has no three-point stance, no kickoffs and no punts.
Pop Warner restricts contact to only 25 percent of practice time at all age levels.
Pop Warner coaches are mandated to train in USA Football’s Heads Up Football program every year, where proper and improved approaches to tackling and blocking are taught.
In 2012, Pop Warner banned full-speed head-on, blocking or tackling drills where players lined up more than 3 yards apart.
In 2010, Pop Warner implemented the first youth sport concussion policy. Under the policy, any participant removed from play due to a head injury may not return to Pop Warner activities until he or she is evaluated – and receives written clearance – by a licensed medical professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.