Should Your Child Play Flag Football or Tackle Football?


These days, there are dozens of organized sports a child can participate in. Soccer, golf, karate, competitive skiing—the list goes on.

Despite all the options, however, some kids have their eyes set on the pigskin. They're ready for some football.

If your child is interested in hitting the gridiron with some shoulder pads and a helmet on, it's important to consider whether he (or she, in some cases) should play tackle or flag football to start.

Tackle Football: The Basics

Children can begin playing tackle football as early as 5 years old. Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football program, provides opportunities in cities all across the country.

Pop Warner is the only youth football program that sets and enforces a strict age and weight matrix. Most parents prefer this, as it ensures their children will compete against kids of similar ages and sizes.

Most youth football programs are played with the same rules as professional football, though there can be some minor differences such as shorter field lengths (80 yards as opposed to 100) and quarter lengths (8 to 12 minutes as opposed to 15).

Tackle Football: Benefits and Dangers

If a child has hopes of playing football at the professional or collegiate levels, starting in tackle football before high school can increase their chances of achieving their goals. According to the official Pop Warner website, the National Football League Players Association estimates that between 60 and 70 percent of NFL players began their careers playing Pop Warner.

More: What to Expect at a Youth Football Camp

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About the Author

Hunter Hewitt

Hunter Hewitt is the fitness editor for Active.com. As a former collegiate athlete, Hunter has always been passionate about living an active, healthy lifestyle. He enjoys weightlifting, basketball, ultimate frisbee and many other outdoor sports and activities. Follow Hunter on Twitter @HunterHewitt
Hunter Hewitt is the fitness editor for Active.com. As a former collegiate athlete, Hunter has always been passionate about living an active, healthy lifestyle. He enjoys weightlifting, basketball, ultimate frisbee and many other outdoor sports and activities. Follow Hunter on Twitter @HunterHewitt

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