Safe Play is Our Priority!
Football and cheerleading are physical sports -- and kids are precious commodities! That's why we take safety very seriously.
Injuries among Junior Knight and Junior Warrior players remain low year-over-year -- and there are good reasons for that:
*We provide equipment that is up-to-date and regularly certified for safety.
*We've implemented USA Football's new initiative, developed by physicians, to make the game safer by reducing contact and spotlighting player development.
*All NLYFA coaches are USA Football-certified for safety and best practices.
Our approach acknowledges that young athletes shouldn't take the hits designed for more experienced players. Instead, we coach players based on their age and skill level. That allows them to progress as athletes in a safer, more controlled environment.
At the same time, we know that experience is the best teacher. And that playing football is fun! So we operate our teams in a way that maximizes game time for players of all abilities:
Wednesday Night League - Players who might be smaller, more timid or less developed have the chance to take snaps and run plays in a competitive setting, playing against the same teams we face during weekend games. This gives kids the thrill and experience of game-day football, while facing players of similar sizes and abilities. The Wednesday Night League runs its own playoff and Superbowl series.
Fifth Quarter - Prior to each weekend game, players from both teams who aren't in the starting lineup will face off. Rules are slightly different, but still allow athletes to gain valuable in-game experience.
Weekend Games - More experienced, aggressive and sometimes larger athletes take the lead on Saturday and Sunday games, where teams on both sides of the ball are playing faster and hitting harder. Coaches will not put players into these weekend games until they feel the athlete is confident and capable to take on their opponents.
Being safety-conscious is getting us noticed: Parents surveyed by USA Football -- which incorporates both flag and tackle programs -- overwhelmingly report that they believe the sport is safer now than it was just five years ago. And a full 90 percent of parents believe that today's coaches are better trained in health and safety than they were just a few years back.
Our cheerleaders participate in a sport that's physical in a very different way. Jumps, flips and stunts are a thrilling part of cheer, but they need to be done correctly and safely.
Our cheer safety begins early in the season, when coaches participate in concussion training classes. Then, we bring cheerleaders into specialty camps, where they learn proper stunting techniques to avoid injury.
For our competitive Elite teams, the stunts get higher and harder. That's why we bring in a professional choreographer to help determine the safest stunting position for each cheerleader. Additionally, Elite practices take place indoors, on mats designed specifically for cheer. We want stunting and tumbling to happen in the proper atmosphere to minimize risk of injury.