Horse-collar Tackle Now Illegal in Youth Football
Most youth football leagues use the High School rules that are in effect in their respective states. Most youth football leagues may have a few “exception” rules that differ from the High School rules like: minimum play rules, special teams exceptions or even in some cases scoring or field size. But those exceptions are just that, exceptions. The base rules are always the High School rules in effect and that means NFHS rules for 48 states. Texas and Massachusetts use NCAA rules.
Horsecollar Legal in 48 States
Well until February 13, 2009, the Horsecollar tackle was perfectly legal in youth football in those 48 states using NFHS rules. The horsecollar tackle is a very dangerous tackle where the ball carrier is taken down by the inside back or side collar of his shoulder pads. Last year I had one unlucky player on my age 12-13 team get taken down four times in a single game by a horsecollar tackle.
Several of the parents were getting a bit miffed that no penalty was being called. I let them and my coaches know, that while this was a very dangerous way to be tackled, that it was a legal tackle in our state. I let them know the horsecollar tackle was then only illegal under NCAA and NFL rules. At halftime I asked the ref it there was anything he could do, he replied “it’s a judgment call, I could call unnecessary roughness, but I’m not”. I have zero problem with the referees ruling, he is just enforcing what is on the books. Thank goodness, the books were fixed this year.
The New Ruling
According to the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), this is what they came up with last week:
Effective with the 2009 season, it will be illegal to grab the inside back or side collar of the runner’s shoulder pads or jersey and subsequently pull the runner to the ground. The penalty will be 15 yards from the succeeding spot.
Julian Tackett, assistant commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee, said the committee felt the need to continue to address risk minimization issues for the runner.
“Risk minimization continues to be one of the most important fundamentals to the rules-writing process of the NFHS,” Tackett said. “Though this play does not happen often, we must ensure that our coaches and officials understand the importance of penalizing this act.”
In youth football it is important to know the rules and pass that knowledge on to your coaches, players and parents. The rules used in High School and youth footballl and the rules seen on TV on Saturdays and Sundays are often different. I’ve seen so many coaches and parents make total fools of themselves because of these differences. For instance, there is no such thing as an “uncatchable ball” in NFHS rule games. If pass interference happens in an NFHS game, it’s pass interference whether the ball was catchable or not. I’ve seen so many coaches and parents wrongly berate an official over this call alone. Referees just knowingly shrug and smile with me when that happens. Know the rules so you won’t be one of “those guys” who loses all credibility with the refs by questioning a call like that.
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