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Pop Warner outlawing 3-point stances in lower levels of youth football

Posted by John T. Reed on

I just heard Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MD commend Pop Warner Football for outlawing the 3-point stance at the lower levels of youth football. This is apparently an anti-concussion rule. The 3-point stance is used by offensive and defensive linemen and some running backs. In the case of linemen, it is because “Low man wins” in contact between opposing football players as evidenced by that ancient coaches admonition to players. Running backs use the 3-point stance to get a faster start like a track team sprinter.
1. Concussions come from high speed contact. Contact between linemen upon the snap of the ball that starts a play involves players who were facing each other from the length of a football apart. It is impossible to build up any speed in the space of about 10 inches.
2. Concussions occur rarely in youth football. I never saw one in coaching 16 football teams except in JV high school football 15-year olds—a level at which Pop Warner is NOT going to impose this rule.
3. The stated reason is the 3-point stance causes players to “lead with their head.” That is a lie. I was taught to use my head as a battering ram in high school football. That was outlawed after I graduated from high school in 1964. It is called “spearing” and was outlawed in 1976 everywhere.

Ever since, coaches have religiously told players NEVER to lead with their head. The main reason was neck injury prevention (paralysis).
4. I suspect Pop Warner Football is now experiencing an existential crisis—in danger of being driven out of business—because of the concussion scam by football fan haters against football fans. Instead of telling parents the truth—youth football players get their concussions from skate boarding and baseball and basketball collisions without helmets and from car accidents—they are pandering to, and encouraging, the false notion that youth football is the main cause of child concussions or even a significant cause of concussions. 

My oldest son started playing at age 8 and played continuously until 22 years old. He was a tailback, the main concussion position, and played youth, high school, Ivy League football for four years, and one game of semi-pro. He never had a concussion.

He says the closest he came was trying to jump over the line at the goal line in a game against Harvard. The Harvard linebacker did the same and they met in mid-air—the opposite of 3-point stance line play.
5. From a football standpoint, outlawing 3-point stances means coaches need to teach the players to go from the now prescribed hands-on-knees (2-point) stance at the snap of the ball to a lower position AFTER the snap. Low man still wins. That is a law of physics not a Pop Warner Rule.
6. College and pro offensive players have long put their hands on their knees before the snap in passing situations and spread offenses. But that is because pass blocking has the blocker take his first step backwards. But as far as I know no defense ever has had defensive linemen stand up.
7. My youth football books have the O line and fullbacks in a 3-point stance generally and use a 2-point stance as a surprise tactic for snapping the ball sooner than the defense expects. My books have the D line in a 4-point stance, which I assume Pop Warner is also outlawing.

3- and 4-point stances are not solely my invention. They are standard throughout all levels and always have been. Essentially, Pop Warner is now outlawing defense at the line position at its lower levels.

This is one of a number of such anti-offense rules. I also have my linemen align in the gap, which many local leagues outlaw, probably because of my readers succeeding too much in their league.

The reason is the most political people in youth football are the head coaches. They, in turn, prefer coaching the offense to the defense, and they tend to outlaw over the years the defensive tactics that are most effective against them, like the low defensive line charge through the gaps in the O line.

Basically, the OC (offensive coordinator) “party” in youth football always has more power than the DC (defensive coordinator) party and they frequently use that power to outlaw effective defensive tactics. This is another example of it.
8. The effect of this new rule on concussions will be zilch. It may even increase the number of concussions by reducing the number of plays that never get going up to full speed and increasing the number of plays that do get up to full speed.

The effect on defenses will be dramatic. They will be less successful. Are they outlawing my gap-air-mirror defense? No. They are outlawing the low defensive line charge that ALL football defenses use. My defense is still the best, but it will be affected the same as all other defenses by this rule change.

If your D line cannot get low before the snap, they’d better get low AFTER the snap to be successful. I do not know the details of how Pop Warner will regulate that.

9. Pop Warner is the most famous youth football league, but they have nowhere near the market share of Little League baseball or even Pony or Babe Ruth baseball. Most youth football leagues use high school rules. I believe two states (MA and TX) use college rules in high school and maybe youth, too. But youth leagues other than Pop Warner may copy this dishonest publicity stunt because they, too, are having trouble recruiting because of parents being scared by anti-football propaganda.
Gap-Air-Mirror Defense in Youth Football, 3rd edition book

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