Pee Wee Football: Pros and Cons of the Youth Sport
Should You Sign Your Child up for Pee Wee Football?
Children's organized sports can be a positive experience for the family in a number of ways. Once a child is about 5 or 6 years old, they may be ready to join a team sport.
Parents, on the other hand, should carefully weigh what the involvement will actually mean - from practices, to games, to sideline competition! Some dads (and moms) try to live vicariously through their children's athletic accomplishments. If your child threatens Billy's rushing statistics, well.... it may not be pretty.
Also, keep in mind the commitment it will take from everyone in the family. Carpooling, late meals, potentially rushed homework and more. On the other hand, the benefits of participating in pee wee football or other youth sports are endless: patience, teamwork, sportsmanship, pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Want to learn more about the sport? Read on!
Texas Pee Wee Football
Pros and Cons of Youth Sports
Benefits of Organized Sports include:
- Improved coordination
- Learning rules of the game
- Understanding sportsmanship
- Working in a team environment (helping the overall group achieve success)
- Waiting and taking turns
- Understanding how practice leads to improvement
- Learning about winning and losing - and winning isn't everything
What a season of Organized Sports may entail:
- Practices (1-2 hours, sometimes 2-3 times a week)
- Games (1 or 2 a week)
- Equipment, including appropriate practice gear and shoes
- Balls (pigskin, soccer ball, baseball and bats, etc.)
- Snacks (everyone brings them at least once a season)
- Travel to away games
- Thank you gift for coaches
- End of season party
- Post-season play-offs?
- All of this for the length of a season - anywhere from 9-14 weeks, or more, depending on play-offs
There are a variety of team sports that are open to children in the United States, through all four seasons. The primary ones are:
- Soccer (also known as football in other areas of the world)
- American football
American football is generally open only to young boys, whereas the other sports are either co-ed, or separated by the sexes (girls teams and boys teams). Most programs for youth football, sweetly referred to as "Pee Wee Football," begin at ages 7 or 8, when the boys are in at least the 2nd grade. Pee Wee Football lasts through about age 12, when the boys are considered Junior Football players.
Pee Wee Football Player gets Leveled
What Gear is Required for Pee Wee Football?
As with other sports, Pee Wee football players suit up in uniform and protective gear for practices and games. This may be the most endearing quality of watching youth football games - a bunch of little 8 and 9 year olds in pads and helmets trying to run patterns, and usually running into each other instead.
The gear is very important, however. Even young children can receive serious head injuries. After all, this is tackle football.
Protective helmets are required as a matter of course and some dentists also recommend mouth guards for an additional measure of security. You never know when your son may be up against a 5 foot 10 inch 5th grader who has gone through an early growth spurt.
Have your child properly suit up in pads and wear a helmet before going to any practice, and for all games.
Reference Guide for Pee Wee Football
How Big Can Pee Wee Football Players Be?
Generally, it is up to local organizations as to whether or not they will set a weight limit for particular age classes of Pee Wee Football. If your son is particularly large, or small, check the rules and regulations to see if there are limits that apply.
The American Youth Football organization sets the following age/weight limits for regional and national tournaments. Pre-game weigh-ins are conducted before each game. Those who do not make weight cannot participate.
For example, in the NATIONAL DIVISION:
Age (as of July 31st)
Max Stripped Weight + Uniform Allowance = Max Dressed Weight
Jr. PeeWee: 10 and Under
114 + 5 = 119 lbs,
94 + 5 = 99 lbs
PeeWee: 11 and Under
129 + 5 = 134 lbs,
109 + 5 = 114 lbs
Jr. Midget: 12 and Under
144 + 6 = 150 lbs,
124 + 6 = 130 lbs
Midget: 14 and Under
169 + 6 = 175 lbs,
149 + 6 = 155 lbs
Pee Wee Player Jukes his Whole Team
Pick a Football for your Child!
Rules of Pee Wee Football
The basic rules of the game are, you must move the football forward 10 yards in 4 tries called "downs," or you have to turn the ball over to your opponents. If you run the ball down the field into the endzone of your opponents, it's a touchdown, worth 6 points. You then have the opportunity to kick an extra point through the goal posts, for a total of 7 points. At times, if it appears that you will not be able to make it to the endzone before turning the ball over, you can try to kick a field goal, which is worth 3 points. There are many more rules that come into play during the game, relating to how the ball is moved, when players can move, how many players on a field (11 on each side), etc.
Therules of youth football are generally thought to be the same as the National Football League (NFL) rules. However, many local organizations modify youth football rules for their own leagues in order to protect the boys, or allow for more "even play." Here is a list of a few rule changes that have been implemented in various locations around the country:
- No defender may line up in a gap
- No blitzing
- There must be two backs in the offensive backfield
- No special-teams plays
- No rushing punts or place kicks
- Only the 6-2 defense may be used
- No heavy kids running the ball or playing linebacker
- Only balanced offensive lines may be used
- The quarterback may not run with the ball
- Scouts may not record anything using video, audio, or even pencil and paper
- On a change of possession (i.e. turnover or a punt) any lineman in the game at the time of the turnover, both offense and defense, must come off the field for 3 plays. Minimum of 5 lineman must leave the field for each team.
- All defenders must be stationary at the snap
- No more than 5 men on the defensive line, and at least 2 men 10 yards off the ball
- Linebackers are not allowed to blitz. The linebackers must read the play before moving forward. This call is subjective on the part of the refs, but if they believe that a linebacker is immediately rushing towards the line of scrimmage when (or just before) the snap, they will throw a flag.
- Quarterback must take the snap with his hands under the center.
- If a boy carries the ball over the line of scrimmage in the one half, he may not do so in the other.
- If your team is winning by more than 18 points you have to take out your 4 best players also known as "franchise players" (the other coaches pick them)
While these rules may seem too easy, they are for the kids' protection. Importantly, you'll find that as your child ages, the game will become more and more like professional football, particularly in high school and college ball.
The Most Important Rule of Pee Wee Football
For some reason, youth football seems to bring out the more competitive of the parents. Sidelines are cluttered with screaming moms and dads, which can make you wonder if they have visions of scholarships already in their minds for their little 8 year old son. It can be dismaying to see these adults demonstrate worse sportsmanship than the children for whom they should be modeling good behavior.
Fortunately, many sports organizations are requiring parents, as well as athletes, to sign "Good Sportsmanship" contracts. Although not legally binding, they can at least make some people slow down and think before they shout off at the coaches (or worse, at some of the young players) about the outcome of a youth game. The kids should be having fun. Learning that its NOT all about winning or losing. Making new friends and understanding what its like to work as a team.
Pee Wee Football can be a positive experience for your son - and perhaps even your daughter! Follow the rules of the game, be a good sport, and enjoy your little football player's experience on the field.
© 2008 Stephanie Hicks
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