West

High schools cutting sports practice contact to reduce head injuries

Players on Foxborough’s C Midget football team scramble through an agility drill recently; the Pop Warner program now limits head-to-head contact during practices.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Players on Foxborough’s C Midget football team scramble through an agility drill recently; the Pop Warner program now limits head-to-head contact during practices.

When the Pop Warner program announced in June that it would limit head-to-head contact in practices, local high schools took notice.

Coaches at Dover-Sherborn and Marshfield high schools also said they will curb contact during practices.

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 The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association said revising practice regimens appears to be a trend among its member high schools, which are paying attention to similar changes at the professional and collegiate levels.

“Instead of more head-on activity, you can have them angled,” said Joey Schotland, Dover-Sherborn’s head football coach.

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Robert Cantu, codirector of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, recommends no tackling in either practice or games for players under age 14; younger children are better off sticking to flag football, he says.

He also recommends no head balls in soccer until age 14.

Lisa Kocian can be reached at lkocian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeLisaKocian.
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