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Pop Warner bans kickoffs in youngest age groups

In an effort to minimize head injuries, Pop Warner announced Thursday it would ban kickoffs in its three youngest age divisions beginning with the upcoming season.

Pop WarnerPop Warner becomes the first national football organization to eliminate kickoffs. The NFL is moving touchbacks to the 25-yard line beginning with the upcoming season, a move the league hopes will discourage returns, but until now no league has made a move to scrap kickoffs all together.

From Pop Warner:

Instead of kicking it off, the ball will be placed at the 35-yard line to start each half and after each score in all Tiny Mite (5-to-7-years-old), Mitey Mite (7-9) and Junior Pee Wee (8-10) games.

Following the season, Pop Warner will review the results of the move as it considers implementation in older divisions.

“We are constantly working to make the game safer and better for our young athletes, and we think this move is an important step in that direction,” said Jon Butler, Pop Warner’s executive director.

“Eliminating kickoffs at this level adds another layer of safety without changing the nature of this great game. We are excited to look at the results at the end of the year as we explore additional measures.”

The organization also announced reductions in contact time during practices, a rule that will be implemented in all age divisions. Contact will be limited to 25 percent of practice time, a reduction from 33 percent that was put in place in 2012.

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