Head Impact Exposure of a Youth Football Team over Eight Consecutive Seasons

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022 Jan 1;54(1):3-11. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002756.


Purpose: This study examined HIE of middle school football players over multiple seasons.

Methods: Head impact exposure was evaluated in 103 football players (11-14 yr) who participated in a community-based youth tackle football program, up to 2 yr, with the same coaching staff over eight consecutive seasons (2012-2019). Head impact exposure was assessed using the Head Impact Telemetry System. Median of individual mean head impacts per session (HIPS) and median of individual 50th and 95th percentile head impact magnitudes were compared across seasons.

Results: There were 33,519 head impacts measured throughout the study. Median HIPS for all sessions decreased every year, with a significant reduction from 2012 to 2019 (11.1 vs 2.3 HIPS; P < 0.05). Median game HIPS were significantly reduced in 2019 compared with 2012-14 (5.00 vs 16.30-17.75 HIPS; P < 0.05). Median practice HIPS were reduced by 81.3%, whereas median game HIPS were reduced by 69.3%. Median 50th and 95th percentile linear and rotational acceleration were lower in 2019 compared with some earlier years but remained unchanged during games.

Conclusions: Head impacts incurred by youth football players decreased substantially over eight seasons, with players in the final year sustaining approximately one fifth the HIPS as players experienced during the first year. The most prominent decline occurred in practices, although players also had much fewer head impacts in games. These results suggest that coaches' and/or players' behavior can be modified to greatly reduce the head impact burden in youth football.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Football / injuries*
  • Head Movements / physiology*
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Telemetry
  • United States / epidemiology