Tools for Better Practices

USA Football’s National Practice Guidelines for Youth Tackle Football can help make youth football practices better and safer.

USA Football National Practice Guidelines are the first comprehensive guide for youth tackle football endorsed by leading medical organizations. They work hand-in-hand with Heads Up Football while making it easy for any youth football coach to implement health and safety recommendations.


Youth practice guidelines are a natural progression of the systems already established for college and high school football. Take advantage of fully defined levels of contact, detailed implementation instructions and medically sound safety guidance.


High school practice guidelines were developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to create effective, consistent national standards. Guidelines can be downloaded directly from NFHS or by using the link above.


Preseason Heat Acclimation
Prepare Your Players to Exercise in the Heat

About 90 percent of heat stroke cases occur during the first few days of practice, when athletes are unprepared to cope with environmental conditions and physiological demands.

Intensity and Hydration
Keep players hydrated. Schedule rest periods.

Spend the first two weeks of practice gradually increasing the length and intensity of practice as well as the amount of equipment worn. Athletes should have access to fluids at all times and have periods of rest throughout a practice.

Preseason Heat Acclimatization Recommendations
1 practice per day. 4 practices per week maximum.

Practices interrupted by inclement weather or heat restrictions should only resume once conditions are safe. Modify work-to-rest ratio in extreme environmental conditions or reschedule to cooler parts of the day.

Reduce the Risk of Injury – Progressive Contact

Introduce contact in a progressive manner before advancing to full-contact drills.
Air / Bags / Control / Thud / Live Action

Levels of Contact

USA Football’s Levels of Contact define five intensity levels used to introduce players to practice drills that position them to master the fundamentals quicker and increase skill development.

Preseason Practice Limits
No more than 1 per day. No more than 4 per week.

Preseason practices should be limited to no more than 1 practice per day and no more than 4 practices per week.

Use A Practice Planner
Manage teams and practice plans

Schedule practices and activities.
Keep track of full contact limits. Share practice plans with others.

Plan when to teach or compete and when to adjust contact to promote a better experience for players.

Assign a level of contact to every drill.
Proper usage of the Levels of Contact system helps players improve their contact skills at a high level while instilling confidence. Employing the Levels of Contact system also helps reduce player fatigue, which can advance player safety.