NDSU Grad Proposing Safer Alternative to Tackle Football

In the NFL alone, there were 281 reported concussions and head injuries suffered during the 2017 season

FARGO, N.D. — In the NFL alone, there were 281 reported concussions and head injuries suffered during the 2017 season, a 15.6% increase over a five-year span. Because of this parents are reluctant to let their kids participate in the contact sport at a young age.

“We did have some concerns and we knew we weren’t alone in those concerns,” NDSU graduate Jeremy Ling said. “There’s lots of other parents in our community that share those hesitations.”
Because of those collective fears, Ling began watching the youth football program in his community collapse.
“We have really struggled to get kids to sign up to play football in the past five years, so much so that our program was crumbling and so we were looking for alternatives to try to get kids to continue to sign up and come into the program,” Ling said.
Thus TackleBar came to fruition.
“TackleBar football is intended to provide an authentic football experience in a safer contact setting,” Ling explained. “Players still wear all the same gear plus this TackleBar harness that has these two foam bars at the lower back area. The defenders need to track, break down, engage the ball carrier, wrap him up, but instead of taking him to the ground they rip off one of these bars.”
Ling says TackleBar is the perfect middle ground between tackle and flag football. It will also help prepare young athletes as they transition to the standard version of the game.
“The TackleBar harness to down the ball carrier is mimicking the tackling technique that coaches will want players to learn,” he said. “Flags don’t. They actuallydevelope poor habits.”
And after a full season with roughly 2,000 participants…
“An entire season no concussions and no major injuries,” Ling said.
Ling now hopes that his innovation can revive the game in other communities too.
“We have had countless numbers of parents tell us ‘This is great, thank you for doing this. My child would not be playing football right now if this TackleBar wouldn’t be an option,” Ling said. “That’s really what’s motivated us to say if it’s working in some of these communities lets go spread it to other communities and see if it can be a solution for them as well.”

TackleBar is sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Coaches Association. Ling says it could also be used in college and professional football as a practice tool.

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