USA Football has rolled out a new program called Rookie Tackle which is designed to help young players and to increase participation. The pilot program will start with 11 organizations. USA Today High School Sports notes the program “features fewer players, smaller fields, no special teams and no three-point stances.”
This video gives a brief description of the program.
In many ways, USA Football is finally catching up with youth soccer, little league, youth hockey, and others who have already moved to small sided games and fewer players. Now USA Football is experimenting with a program that moved players from flag football, to Rookie Tackle to full 11v11 tackle football.
This is just a pilot program. It is the beginning of USA Football’s efforts to change. When US Youth Soccer began to move to small sided games, it took many years. In fact, only this fall will fifth and sixth graders been required to play small sided. While the overwhelming majority of clubs have moved to small sided already, it’s been “strongly recommended” until now. We should all anticipate the same ongoing process of change with USA Football.
They will learn from this program and they will improve it. There will be coaches that are dead set against it and organizations that will fight it. There will be parents and players that push hard for this change to become universal. It’s a process.
But USA Football has shown leadership in taking this initial step.