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Pop Warner to implement USA Football's developmental model

A year ago, USA Football introduced its American Development Model, a pilot program aiming to modify tackle football to an age- and skill-appropriate level for younger players.

Much like youth baseball ramps up from t-ball to coach pitch to kid pitch, USA Football launched its developmental model on a pilot program, recommending the youngest players play flag football, the next subset move up to rookie tackle, and then older players take on traditional, 11-man tackle football. Just as baseball reduces the size of the field for younger players (and just this week the NBA recommended lowering the rims from the standard 10 feet for players lower than age 12), rookie tackle reduced the size of the traditional football field and the number of players on the field, from 11 to seven.


On Tuesday, Pop Warner announced it will implement USA Football's development model nation-wide moving forward, beginning this fall.

"For us, nothing trumps safety and we're confident the USA Football ADM is going to make the experience safer and more enjoyable," Pop Warner executive director Jon Butler said. "With recent changes...things like eliminating kickoffs for our youngest divisions, limiting contact to 25 percent of all practice time, and requiring clearance from a medical professional certified in concussion management before a player with a suspected head injury can return to play, we make our game better and safer."

"The USA Football ADM will allow kids to experience the sport at their own pace and it will help us with the development of both players and coaches."

The USA Football ADM was piloted in an Austin-area league last fall to instant success.

With participants ranging in age from five to 16, Pop Warner claims 325,000 members in ints football, cheer and dance programs, the largest such organization in the world.