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USA Football unveils... Rookie Tackle

In baseball, youth players progress from:

  1. T-Ball to...
  2. Coaches Pitch to...
  3. Player Pitch

In football, youth players progress from:

  1. Flag to...
  2. 11 Man Tackle

Think about that. Seems like perhaps a logical step in developing young players' skills & interest in the game is missing.

Well, today, our friends at USA Football are unveiling a pilot program across 11 leagues, involving 24,000 youth players to bridge that gap...allow me to introduce you to Rookie Tackle.

Josh Barnett of USA Today has an in-depth look at the plan; but some highlight include:

  • Leagues can choose to play six, seven or eight players on the field per team, enabling better coach to player ratios
  • No position specialization - enabling players to learn & enjoy different skills, and be involved more in each play
  • No special teams - enables more snaps on offense & defense
  • Two-point stances (except for the center)
  • Smaller fields (40 x 35...scalable) - Enables multiple games to go on simultaneously & encourages more physical activity for each player
Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 9.15.41 AM

Now see the future of football, where youth progress from:

  1. Flag to...
  2. Rookie Tackle to...
  3. 11 Man Tackle

My personal opinion is that this is great for the game. It is a lot easier for youth to find 6 men to field a team. No specialization allows each child to explore & hopefully enjoy all of the positions....leading to him finding one that he loves and wants to work hard to improve at. Shorter fields keep the game moving & encourages participation from all players on all plays. Two point stances should eliminate some head to head contact at the line while also eliminating some concerns from parents about their child's participation.

Some traditionalists will undoubtedly be hesitant to support change. My response is there will be time, at the appropriate age, to teach special teams, to develop the glory that is a beautiful battle in the trenches among men firing out of three-point stances, to learn how to use all 53 1/3 yards of width to your advantage; but while they are young, let them grow into the game.

USA Football uses the phrase Right Age, Right Stage. This is youth football. Allow the young players to play and they will find they love the game.

-- Learn more about Rookie Tackle from USA Football.