Pop Warner Football - Concussion Prevention

Rule Changes Regarding Practice & Concussion Prevention

Pop Warner National Office – June 2012

In our continuing efforts to provide the safest playing environment for our young athletes, and in light of developing concussion research, we would like to announce some important rule changes for the 2012 season.

With these rule changes, Pop Warner becomes the first youth football organization to officially limit contact during practices.  These changes can be found in the 2013 Official Pop Warner Rule Book and are a result of the advice of our Medical Advisory Board and the direct input of Pop Warner regional and local administrators and coaches.

The New Rules Are as Follows:

  1. No full speed head-on blocking or tackling drills in which the players line up more than 3 yards apart are permitted. (Having two linemen in stances immediately across the line of scrimmage from each other and having full-speed drills where the players approach each other at an angle, but not straight ahead in to each other are both permitted.)  However, there should be no intentional head-to-head contact!
  2. The amount of contact at each practice will be reduced to a maximum of 1/3 of practice time (either 40 minutes total of each practice or 1/3 of total weekly practice time). In this context, “contact” means any drill or scrimmage in which drills; down line vs. down line full-speed drills; and scrimmages.

In addition to the above, we would also like to reiterate the technique portion of Rule 14 of the Pop Warner National Rule Book, 11-Man Tackle Football, regarding teaching safe blocking and tackling techniques which states:


In addition to other specific prohibitions in the National Federation and NCAA rulebooks, no butt blocking, chop blocking, face tackling or spearing techniques shall be permitted.

Furthermore, we have implemented a new Health & Safety section on popwarner.com to keep our members abreast of current issues in concussion awareness and other health and safety matters. We hope that this resource will become a valuable tool for our teams.

The Pop Warner National Office staff is available to answer any questions you may have on these rule changes or other coaching and administrative issues. We will host online chats, add helpful tips for practice and planning to our website and Facebook page, and as always will be available by phone and email to answer any questions.

We appreciate your support of this important initiative.

Related article from ESPN: Football finally focusing on practice