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Study: Negative effects of contact in practices

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Virginia Tech found that contact between players in practice football games may have a significant effect on head injuries in the sport. As kids across the nation are gearing up to pass around the pigskin, some parents and coaches remain concerned about the amount of hits kids take during practice.

According to the study conducted on 50 youth players between the ages of 9 and 12, which utilized sensors connected to helmets, players who had limitations on hits during practice experienced an average of 37 to 46 percent fewer impacts that those who practiced more and were allowed to hit.

"It is striking that you can cut head impacts for a player in half just by modifying practice, and it does not seem to change the game," Alexander Powers, co-author of the study and assistant professor of neurosurgery at Wake Forest Baptist told Science News Daily. "This may be very important in kids where brains are developing."

The scientists also found that limiting the amount of contact in practices had little to no effect in games. Some schools are decreasing the time spent playing practices to two times a week for no more than 30 minutes each session.

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