PLANO, Texas – Concussion concerns in the NFL have trickled down to the largest youth football organization in the U.S.
Almost 300,000 kids play Pop Warner football. But when they go back to practice across the country this August, there will be a lot less hitting.
For many, this may be the safest way for the little ones to play football.
Candice Mason, the mother of an eight-year-old and 10-year-old from Plano, Texas, said, "I've kinda been hesitant for my children to play football because they do start contact so early."
J.J. Ortiz, a former coach and father of a 10-year-old, said, "Any kind of head injury could change them for a lifetime, and they're too young for that."
Once the season starts, contact drills will only be allowed for a third of total practice time.
Brad Wenzel watched in agony as his son took a heavy hit.
"He was rolling out to do a pass, and this monster ... came over and leveled him, and his head popped up off the Astroturf twice," Wenzel said.
"It put a little knock in my head," his son Preston added. "And it hurt, a lot. But I got up and shook it off."
But not everyone does shake it off.
Studies have shown that most of the head injuries happen in practice, not in games. So the old-school football favorite drills like Oklahoma and Bull in the Ring are gone.
The league decided to make the changes after sensors installed in players' helmets showed they took on average more than 100 head hits in 10 practices and five games.