Big Changes for Pop Warner

National Pop Warner has recently rolled out a number of changes to the youth football program including:

  1. The three-point stance has been eliminated at the Tiny Mite (5-7 years old), Mitey-Mite (7-9 years old), & Jr Pee Wee (8-10 years old) level.

  2. No kickoffs at the Pee Wee (9-11 years old) level.

In addition to these new rules, Pop Warner now allows age-based, unlimited weight football! Temecula Valley Pop Warner is restructuring our divisions to better accommodate the future of youth football - beginning with the 2019 season, we now offer the following divisions:

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For easier reference, our former Jr Pee Wee division is becoming 10U, now for ages 9 & 10 with no weight limit. Our former Pee Wee division is becoming 12U, now for ages 11 & 12 with no weight limit. Our former JV/Unlimited divisions are becoming 14U, now for ages 13 & 14 with no weight limit. A player’s age for the season is their age on July 31, 2019.

With the many recent changes made by Pop Warner, including contact and practice limitations, game play and refereeing practices have made the Pop Warner football game safer than it has ever been. Given the many changes, it is now possible to safely modify how teams are established. We can no longer deny or limit participation for larger kids in the name of safety. Pop Warner teams have always been established on the basis of age and weight to keep the athletes in similar size and age/maturity levels for safety. With new rules limiting the amount of contact practice time, no full speed blocking or tackling lined up more than 3 yards apart, requirements that all coaches complete the USA Heads Up Football course to be on a roster, and very strict protocols regarding illness or injury - changes are able to be made. The game is now coached, practiced, played, and refereed differently than ever before making it possible to match players on the basis of age, not weight.

In a study done by the Mayo Clinic, the findings were as follows for ages 9-14, grades 4-8: A total of 55 injuries occurred during games for the entire season for an incident rate of 5.97% Most injuries were minor with most being bruise/contusions which accounted for 60% of total injuries. 7% of total injuries were bad enough to prevent players from participating for the rest of the season; all of these were ankle fractures. To the surprise of many, heavier players sustained more injuries than light players. Therefore, specific weight groupings would not appear to protect lighter players.

The risk of injury for an 8th grader was 4x the risk of injury for a 4th grader; therefore, the #1 risk factor for injury is age. The higher the age, the higher the chance of injury and as a result, correct age groupings are critical to limiting injuries.

Specific weight categories may even force youth athletes to drop weight in order to make the weight category and the result can be very unhealthy and even dangerous.

Our number one priority is always the safety of our players and we are confident this change will be a positive move for Temecula Valley Pop Warner and Palomar Conference.