Read another article on Youth Sports and player participation this time at https://www.leaguenetwork.com/which-youth-sports-are-on-the-rise/ They mentioned 3 sports on the rise and I will tell you why the number one is having a big inpact and the one simple thing they did 8 years ago.
So they mentioned Hockey, LaCrosse & Gymnastics. I don't know much about Gymnastics but I think LaCrosse looks like a great game that is fast paced with pretty constant movement (unlike Youth Tackle) which is tends to be slow, tedious and compressed. But Ice Hockey was the number one in terms of recent growth with 64% growth in last 10 years. Why? Well here is the very simple reason you have huge growth in Ice Hockey, ten years ago Youth Hockey had declining numbers in new youth players so USA Hockey steps forward and institutes that body checking will not be allowed until Bantam Division which is 13-14 yrs old. That's it! Pretty simple. Was it simply a way to decrease injury and potential concussions? Yes it was but that was secondary to what USA Hockey said and I quote "It's a skill development initiative first," based on USA Hockey's research that bodychecking at the Pee Wee level (11-12 year olds and younger) was significantly distracting players from improving their skills at a critical time in their development, with players either too focused on hitting or trying to avoid a hit.
That's it? So by eliminating the body check before age 13 you decrease injury, concussions and players develop skills faster toward their respective positions. It's pretty much spot on with what we are trying to do with Flex Football around the Country. Introduce youth players to football with semi contact, keep the head out of the game until Middle School, develop the skills to play modern football in space to progress towards High School career and potentially beyond.