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Unlearning in Action: Practice Without Helmets to Reduce Concussions

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nohelmetConcussions are a big problem for football teams. To address the problem, new regulations were issued regarding safe tackling. This presents a challenge for players who were taught to tackle using their helmet (head first). So how to help them unlearn this practice and learn a new technique that will lead to safer ways to tackle and reduce concussions?

Enter Erik Swartz, a University of New Hampshire professor of kinesiology who studies movement. He suggests that getting to the root of the problem – technique may do the trick. Instead of clashing helmet-first, he suggests that the better approach is to keep the head up and tackle chest to chest, never leading with your helmet — or your face, neck or shoulders. Now the University of New Hampshire football squad practices without helmets. Swartz says his idea to experiment with having players drill without helmets came from his own time playing rugby. In rugby, “you keep your head out of the way in a tackle in rugby,” he says. “Because it’s not protected, it will hurt.”


To hear the story as it was reported on National Public Radio, click the link below:

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