Going from flag to tackle football

My oldest child is nine and he played four years of flag football. He started when he was 5 years old and took to it pretty easily. Every year he was a stand out player. He first played through the YMCA. The YMCA was a laid back program. Then he played through the NFL flag program and it was more rules, longer games, and they had referees.

We knew last year he was at the point, he was going to have to play tackle this year. I was very nervous. At his age Pop Warner put him in a 9,10, & 11 age group. At 9 he was going to be one of the youngest and smallest on his team.
This wasn’t the only change. We went from 1-2 practices to 3 practices a week, 2 hours long with a game on Saturday. A FULL game I might add 2.5-3 hours long!

It was tough watching him get slammed into the ground, but it was exciting when he got his first big tackle.

I was worried he wouldn’t play this year, but he is. He is the second string running back and he had two good carries at today’s game. The 1st game of the season. I think his gymnastics training gives him an advantage. He is much more flexible than the other kids on the team.

After experiencing a full season, I feel like I should have waited to have him play tackle. He did not get hurt, but the age spread was too much. Had it just been 4th and 5th grades I would probably feel different.
Many 11 year olds are way bigger than a 9 year old. So, to me that becomes a safety issue. 
Another issue is kids getting burned out. By the time Noah was a freshman, he had been playing tackle football for five years and was totally burned out. He quit part way through the season. I wonder if I had waited a few years to have him play if he would still be playing now. 

What are some things you should consider before allowing your child to play tackle football?

1. Age and Physical Development:

One of the primary considerations when contemplating tackle football for your child is their age and physical development. Younger children may be more susceptible to injuries, given the intensity of the sport. Assessing your child’s physical readiness, including their strength, coordination, and overall maturity, is crucial in determining if they are prepared for the physical demands of tackle football.

2. Understanding the Risks:

Tackle football is an inherently physical sport, and with physicality comes the risk of injuries. It’s imperative for parents to be well-informed about the potential risks associated with tackle football, ranging from concussions to musculoskeletal injuries. Acknowledging these risks and having an open conversation with your child about them is essential in making a decision that prioritizes their well-being.

3. Equipment and Safety Measures:

Ensuring that your child has access to proper and well-maintained safety equipment is paramount. From helmets to pads, each piece plays a crucial role in minimizing the risk of injuries. Additionally, understanding the safety measures implemented by the league or team, such as coaching certifications and emergency response plans, adds an extra layer of assurance for parents.

4. Long-Term Impact on Mental Health:

Beyond physical injuries, it’s essential to consider the potential long-term impact on your child’s mental health. Concussions and the cumulative effects of playing tackle football can have repercussions later in life. Assessing the balance between the physical benefits and potential mental health considerations is vital in making a holistic decision about your child’s participation in the sport.

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