Rookie Tackle®

A modified game to introduce tackle football to youth players.

Rookie Tackle® serves as a bridge game between flag football and full-field tackle. It is also a part of USA Football’s Football Development Model.

Be a part of the movement and access resources to help you start your Rookie Tackle program.

Flag Football Rookie Tackle Full-Field Tackle

Start a Rookie Tackle Program

If you are interested in offering Rookie Tackle in your league, simply log in or create an account to access free resources to get you started.

About Rookie Tackle

Rookie Tackle was created with input from youth football leaders throughout the United States to improve the playing experience for young athletes.

Click on the video to learn about the impact of Rookie Tackle.


Coaches can now learn the rules of Rookie Tackle. Take our Rookie Tackle Rules course today!

Discover the Football Development Model

Explore how USA Football is creating positive experiences for participants at all ages and stages of the game.


Fosters Participation

Allows leagues with limited registered players to field more teams.

Players Rotate Positions

Participants rotate and learn multiple positions and skills on offense and defense.

Smaller Fields

Scaled to create an appropriate playing space for the age and abilities of younger athletes.

Maximize Field Space

Allows leagues to utilize field space more efficiently.

Smaller Rosters

Provides a greater coach-to-player ratio to foster individual attention and skill development.

Rules Modifications

In order to increase activity, game play and learning, certain rule modifications are structured into the framework.


A small-sided game to maximize participation, player skill development, and enjoyment at younger levels.


“The proper development of young players is important to ensure the sport’s long-term viability, and Rookie Tackle is the right step to ensure football’s enjoyment is continued for generations to come.”

Bill Polian, Pro Football Hall of Fame Contributor, Chairman of USA Football’s Football Advisory Committee and NFL Analyst for ESPN

“As we continue to learn more, this is a sensible step for the development of young athletes. By targeting their physical and mental development, we can help maximize their potential and keep them active supporting success on and off the field.”

Dr. Stanley Herring, former USA Football Medical Advisory Committee Chairman

“Educating coaches and parents is more important than ever, and USA Football’s proposed player pathway is another advancement in football education. As long-time football parents, we’re excited to see USA Football pilot Rookie Tackle.”

Chris and Mike Golic, Football Parents and Co-Host of ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo”

“Our No. 1 priority is to make sure our students learn and grow, and while this must happen through the classroom, our young people can also develop character through athletics. We are glad to partner with USA Football to provide our students with a safer, fun and healthy experience with the sport.”

Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia

“The game of football has evolved tremendously over the last several years. We must continue to find ways to grow and evolve the game, and I believe Rookie Tackle does that. Rookie Tackle is a common-sense approach to introduce tackle football to kids. We applaud USA Football for taking this very valuable step towards improving the game at the youth level.

Pop Warner is proud to have one of our leagues participate in this pilot season.”

Jon Butler, Executive Director, Pop Warner

“We are always seeking new ways to strengthen our support of youth and high school football in our state, and the Rookie Tackle program provides a unique opportunity by creating an atmosphere that is structured to benefit early skill development, and most importantly, allow kids to learn and love football. The Browns are proud to partner with USA Football for this innovative program and to help host a pilot league in Northeast Ohio this fall.”

Jenner Tekancic, Vice President of Community Relations, Cleveland Browns

“We commend USA Football and the 10 youth leagues that are participating in this pilot program. The NFL shares a commitment to youth football development and is proud to support USA Football and the Rookie Tackle program. From smaller fields to an enhanced player experience – Rookie Tackle is a critical step forward in a concerted effort to better teach the fundamentals and create additional pathways for youth participants to play the game.”

Roman Oben, Vice President, Youth and High School Football Strategy, National Football League

“Rookie Tackle has the potential to enhance the social and physical benefits football provides young athletes today.

As a coach, I see not only a pathway for the development of youth players, but also a pathway for youth football coaches.”

Tony Dungy, Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach, Former NFL Player and NFL Analyst for NBC Sports

“Partnering with USA Football to implement the Rookie Tackle program is a decision our league believes will enhance the youth football experience for our players and their families. After experiencing the game at its highest level, it is essential that our sport adopts a ‘right age, right stage’ philosophy for the best interests of our kids.”

Chad Pennington, Rookie Tackle Pilot League Commissioner and Former NFL Quarterback