Skip to main content

Pop Warner is eliminating three-point stances, along with a few other changes

If your youth organization in under the Pop Warner umbrella, prepare for some significant changes.

The organization announced recently that they're becoming the first national football program to eliminate three-point stances in an effort to "make the game safer" for younger players.

The new rule states that players in their groups that range from 5-7, 7-9 and 8-10 year old divisions will no longer be able to put a hand on the ground pre-snap. Instead of the three-point stance used for decades, players must now either be standing upright, or in a modified squat position.

Executive VP of Pop Warner Little Scholars Jon Butler shared the following with the Washington Post and AP about the changes:

“We believe this change is another step in creating a safer, better football experience for young people. By moving away from the three-point stance at our youngest levels we are changing how players are introduced to the sport and how they learn to play the game. We are also setting the stage for our higher levels of play to adopt the change. Because our sport has been willing to evolve over the past 150 years it is safer than ever, while maintaining what makes it so great.”

Right now, the plan is to use the 2019 Pop Warner season to evaluate the new rule change before considering using it in the upper age groups.

Back in 2016, the league started to use no kickoffs at the youngest age groups, and this fall, the league will institute the no kickoffs approach at the 9-11 year old levels. Instead, to start a half or after a score, balls are placed at the 35.

From a coaching perspective, I'm not sure how to feel about these changes. I've never heard of, or seen any research saying that being a three-point stance is unsafe at the lower levels, but can certainly see the difficulty a five-year old may have getting in a stance and controlling his head with a helmet on as a beginning football player.

While Butler notes that Pop Warner hopes that higher levels adopt the change, I have a really hard time seeing that happen UNLESS research comes to light proving three-point stances to be unsafe.

I'll be interested to hear the feedback on this one, before and after the implementation at the youth levels.