Researchers who tracked the injury rates among youth football players suggest that those who were educated about injury prevention from their coach experienced fewer injuries.

The study was recently published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, according to a news release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

“With an estimated 3 million youth aged 7 to 14 years old playing tackle football each year, preventing injuries is key. Our study showed that kids who received a comprehensive education from a coach had fewer injuries,” says lead author Zachary Y. Kerr, PhD, MPH of the Datalys Center for Injury Research and Prevention, in the release.

In the study, the release notes, Kerr and his research team had athletic trainers evaluate and track injuries at each practice and game during the 2014 football season for players from Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Carolina.

They then divided the players into three education groups: no coach education program (NHUF) (704 players), Heads-Up education and Pop Warner affiliation (HUF-PW) (741 players), and Heads-Up Only (HUF) (663 players).

The release explains that a total of 370 injuries were reported during 71,262 athlete exposures. Individuals in the HUF-PW and HUF groups had lower practice injury rates compared to those in the NHUF with 0.97/1000 athlete exposures and 2.73/1000 athlete exposures, respectively, versus 7.32/1000 exposures.

The game injury rate for the NHUF group was 13.42/1000 athlete exposures while the HUF-PW was 3.42/1000 athlete exposures. The game injury rates in the HUF and NHUF groups did not differ, per the release.

Higher injury rates were typically found in those aged 11 to 15 years compared to those 5 to 10 years old. However, stronger effects related to Heads-Up education and Pop Warner affiliation were seen in the older group, the release notes.

Kerr suggests in the release that the findings support the need for additional coaching education and practice contact restrictions.

“Future research should look at how different programs work at various levels of competition and sports,” he says.

[Source(s): American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, EurekAlert]