Had a question come to me via e-mail this week from a first year youth coach: Is face tackling legal in youth football?
The current NFHS Rule book defines Face Tackling under NFHS 2-20-1.b (Illegal Helmet Contact) as, “Face Tackling is an act by a defensive player who initiates contact with a ball carrier with the front of his helmet”.
This is a 15 yard penalty and was put in the rule books over 20 years ago. Unfortunately many coaches that are coaching youth football haven’t played for over 20 years and don’t know that not only is this illegal, it can be dangerous. Leading with the head or face inherently puts undue pressure on the head and neck. This can be a very dangerous method of tackling at the youth level.
This penalty could also be invoked against those players who are taught to “bite the football”, a popular tackling coaching point with many football coaches. Often players instructed in this fashion initiate contact with the facemask, which is a clear violation of this rule.
Make sure you are teaching safe AND legal technique to your kids this season.