Virginia Tech cautions against tackling drills in youth football practice

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - Virginia Tech researchers discovered that football practice could be more dangerous than a game for youth players.

A first-of-its-kind study followed Blacksburg football players ages nine to 11 for a season to see what kind of head impacts they sustained. The findings showed that the kids experienced more severe hits during practice than they did during games.

While this is due in part to simply spending more time in practice than in games, the researchers are now recommending that youth football coaches limit tackling drills at practice, and even do away with some drills entirely.

They said the King of the Circle drill created the most head impacts.

"The harder you hit your head, the more risk there is," said researcher Steve Rowson. "Ultimately, the best way to reduce the number of injuries in football is to reduce the number of head impacts the players see."

Virginia Tech will now team up with Wake Forest and Brown universities to expand this study to six other youth teams across the country.