How to stay safe on the football field: Learning from the NCAA


Even with the known risk of injury, football is as popular as ever among kids and teens. How can parents encourage their QBs-in-training to enjoy playing the game while staying safe? Dr. William MeehanBoston Children’s Sports Medicine physician and director of The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention says the answer is clear: Follow the rules.

Meehan participated in the development of a new policy released in January by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) limiting contact in year-round college football practice. He says, these regulations “should translate to a decreased incidence of concussion.”

Given the potential for long-term effects of repeated concussion sustained during sports, Meehan applauds the NCAA’s efforts to decrease the risk of concussion throughout the year. He is optimistic these changes will soon influence youth football leagues to officially adopt recommendations, like those he has made in the past on how to keep young kids safe on the football field. The best way to avoid injury, he says, is for parents to discuss these guidelines with their child’s coach and to insist the team follows them.

Three key takeaways from the new NCAA guidelines

  1. Three days of practice should be non-contact/minimal contact.
  2. One day of live contact/tackling is allowed.
  3. One day of live contact/thud is allowed.

Three things your youth football player can do now

  1. Build neck strength.
  2. Learn proper tackling techniques.
  3. Reduce the number of hits to the head.

Want more resources for your athlete? Learn more about The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention and subscribe to the Boston Children’s Sports Medicine’s newsletter, Athlete’s Edge.