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U of M study: Youth TackleBar Football safer than flag, tackle football

Updated: October 15, 2019 06:58 PM

Seventh and eighth-grade football players at St. Paul Academy have been practicing TackleBar football for four seasons now. The device is worn around the waist with two foam bars on the players' back.

The program aims to make the game safer, reducing hits and high-impact collisions by teaching players to stay on their feet versus rushing in to take the ball carrier to the ground.

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"You're still playing football but the goal isn't to body-slam your opponent but to wrap your opponent up while tackling and stripping out a bar," says St. Paul Academy coach Logan U'u.

U'u played college football at the University of Minnesota. He's had concussions and says this is a safer way to learn.

"This is a good way to teach kids a better way to apply force and keep them a little more safe while still enjoying the technicality of how to position their bodies for contact," he said.

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University of Minnesota researcher Uzma Samadani is also a neurosurgeon. She followed 1,000 nine to 14-year-olds in Minnesota and Wisconsin over two football seasons.

"What the study showed is the number of injuries and missed practices were lower in children playing tacklebar in comparison to other types of football like flag football, or traditional tackle football," Samadani said.

She discovered no reported head injuries in roughly 16,000 practices and games, and only five injuries required a player to miss the next practice or game.

"I think pulling kids out of sports is not the answer. Making sports safer is the answer, and this is all part of that," Samadani said.

With the dangers of concussions, researchers say coaches should be praised for bringing a safer option to young players.

"It's good to see the culture is shifting to recognize some of the longer effects that are happening," said U'u.

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Jessica Miles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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