Is Youth Flag Football Safer Than Tackle?


Youth Flag Football Vs Tackle Football

It depends on who you ask.

Most people will tell you that tackle football is much more dangerous than youth flag football. But we beg to differ…

Also Read: Flag Football Games for Kids

Why? Because the research shows the opposite. UI researchers have been looking at injury rates in both sports, and the results they’ve found tell a different story.

Study Details on flag football and tackle football

Andrew Peterson is a specialist in UI Sports Medicine. His focus of interest is sports injuries in youth football leagues, and he has received a 2016 pilot grant from UI IPRC for studies in that domain.

According to the information he provides, flag players have the highest rates of injuries (more so than tackle players). As for the seriousness of the injuries (specifically concussions), they weren’t that different.


Andrew Peterson’s studies focused on direct comparisons between two different groups. Specifically, 15% of studied players had participated in flag leagues before. As for the rest, they were tackle football players.

The total amount of participants was close to 3800.

The research checked injuries, their severities, and the degree of concussions that each player suffered in three large football leagues.

Research Focus

Peterson’s study wanted to try a certain hypothesis. The assumption was that tackling may be the number 1 contributor to injury risk in younger athletes.

However, the results showed no indication of the hypothesis’ correction. In fact, it seems that youth flag football is just as safe as tackle football in terms of injury seriousness.

As for classification, the study defined injuries as incidents that caused players to miss time. And it was found that kids were more likely to miss time on average, especially for flag football injury.

However, this may have had to do with parents who participated and supervised their children’s participation after injuries.

Also, it should be noted that while the rate of injury was similar in both sports, the difference in severity wasn’t all that great. The average severity of injuries was similar in both sport forms.

More on Injury Counts

Comparisons aside, the rate of injury in youth football is quite low. According to Dr. Peterson’s research, full season players have a 3% likelihood of receiving an injury.

Also, it should be noted that concussions are more likely to occur during practice, and are especially prevalent for 6th and 7th grade players.

The reason for that is, higher grades play the game at higher speeds and with more violence. And this leads to a greater likelihood of injury at those levels.

Regardless of those results, we cannot forget that sports are a leading cause of injury among teens and children. Concussions especially are a concern, since they have negative long-term health effects.


As a parent, you shouldn’t be afraid of enrolling your children in sports. As you can see, the benefits outweigh the harms overall.

The problems occur at higher grades, and with years of participation in fast-paced practices, which may lead to concussions.

But overall, youth sports are safe. And they’re necessary for your childrens’ health!

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