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Protecting Athletes: Are Concussion in Football Incidents Avoidable? Here’s What Helps—And What Doesn’t

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Parents, coaches, and athletes alike are concerned with the long-lasting effects of concussion in football incidents. Rules are changing to help improve the safety of football for kids and professional athletes alike. In addition to changes in how the game is played, many football organizations are also implementing new training techniques that help keep athletes safe.

Here, we’ll take a look at how rules and training techniques are changing.

Strict Rules Enforcement

The verdict: It works.

In a recent study, incidents likely to cause a concussion were lowered by 30% when referees gave athletes more red cards than normal. When athletes are aware of an increased likelihood of penalty for dangerous behavior, they’re more likely to keep themselves in check when it comes to following rules that keep all players safe. Encouragement from coaches and teammates to stay in the game can also help push athletes away from overly aggressive behaviors that could potentially cause physical harm to an opponent.

Headgear

The verdict: It might work.

Weak study methods make it tough for researchers to understand whether headgear is an effective strategy for reducing the incidence of sports concussions in young athletes. Some studies show that athletes have fewer concussion in football incidents when they wear headgear, while others show that wearing headgear has no effect. Some experts worry that wearing headgear could contribute to riskier behavior from athletes, as they may feel a false sense of security from wearing protective gear.

Age-Appropriate Balls

The verdict: It probably works.

Most experts agree that it’s smart for athletes to use age-appropriate footballs. The balls should be inflated appropriately and should be water-resistant. While research has yet to show that the use of age-appropriate, dry, properly inflated balls reduces the incidence of sports concussions, most experts agree that following these measures can increase the safety of the sport for athletes.

Use of Proper Heading Technique

The verdict: It probably works.

Many people believe that concussion in football incidents in football come from heading the ball. While this can happen, most sports concussion incidents actually happen from contact with another athlete. That being said, proper heading techniques can help athletes protect their neurological health. Some football associations have implemented a ban on heading for kids under ten years old. This provides a window of opportunity for pre-teen players to learn how to head the ball correctly before they move into playing in their teen years.

Improving Neck Strength

The verdict: It doesn’t work.

Understandably, many people believe that improving neck strength can help to keep an athlete’s brain safe while they’re playing football. Research shows that this may be true for lacrosse and basketball players, but the strengthening of the neck muscles has not been proven effective for the reduction of concussion in football incidents in football players. It’s thought that increased control of the neck muscles could help an athlete stabilize their head when faced with an impact, lessening the force of the ball throughout the body. Research is inconclusive on why strengthening the neck muscles is likely to reduce concussions in some sports, but not in football.

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