A Qualitative Study of Youth Football Coaches’ Perception of Concussion Safety in American Youth Football and Their Experiences With Implementing Tackling Interventions

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • | 2 Mathematica Policy Inc.
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Due in part to concern about the potential long-term effects of concussion and repetitive head injuries in football, some programs have implemented tackling interventions. This paper explores youth football coaches’ perception of football safety and their experiences implementing these interventions aimed at athlete safety. Using a qualitative approach, coaches were interviewed by means of a semi-structured protocol that covered: (a) demographics; (b) background and experiences with contact sports; (c) perceived concussion risks and benefits of youth football; (d) experiences with tackling technique; (e) experiences with mouth guard sensors; and (f) personal sources of training related to football safety. Most coaches felt that learning tackling at a young age helped prepare them for their playing later in life and believed that youth should begin playing tackle football at a young age. Coaches were mixed regarding their concerns about the risk for concussion and subconcussive head impacts. Still, most were receptive to changes in rules and policies aimed at making football safer. Findings from this study demonstrate that youth football coaches are important stakeholders to consider when implementing changes to youth football. Understanding coach perceptions and experiences may inform future efforts aimed to educate coaches on rules and policies to make the game safer for youth athletes.

© 2020 Human Kinetics, Inc. Copyright claim excludes original work by the authors, which was created within the scope of their employment within the U.S. Government. Sarmiento and Waltzman are with the Division of Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, USA. Borradaile, Hurwitz, Conroy, and Grazi are with Mathematica Policy Inc., Princeton, NJ, USA.

Sarmiento (KSarmiento@cdc.gov) is the corresponding author.
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