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NOCSAE 2022 Winter Meeting Recap

Rules • February 1, 2022

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) held its 2022 Winter Standards Meeting on January 28. NSGA attended the meeting and has a recap.

NOCSAE provided updates on the potential Youth Football Helmet Standard. Dr. Robert Cantu, the Chair of NOCSAE’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), said the committee’s recommendation is there should be two different standards for the age groups 5-8 and 9-14.

Cantu said it’s clear from the data that with the younger age group (5-8), the speeds of impact are not very fast but the players’ heads are unusually large and necks are weaker and a heavier helmet would cause more of a whiplash effect. Cantu said the older age group (9-14) is much closer to approximating high school football where players have more speed and stronger necks.

Elizabeth McCalley of the Southern Impact Research Center said one of the issues that affects the potential Youth Football Helmet Standard is the materials for the skull and skin of testing headforms is no longer available. She said SIRC is working on finding different materials that are suitable for all of its headforms.

“While the (youth standard) is an important step, these new headforms are a bigger step because they can be used across all of our standards,” said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE Executive director.

The NOCSAE SAC announced it accepted a Request For Proposal (RFP) to determine if there should be standards for football shoulder pads. Cantu said NOCSAE wants to find out the number of incidents of head, neck, chest and shoulder injuries resulting from the impact by shoulder pads.

Cantu also shared a CDC study on the comparison of head impacts in youth tackle and flag football with 500 players between ages 6-14. The tackle group had approximately 390 head impacts per season and the flag group had 11-12 head impacts per season.

There was also a discussion on non-tackle football headgear. Oliver said one of the options which could be considered is a standard to recognize which products are on the market and standardize what is available to consumers.