The Cleveland Browns will host a demonstration session of the new Rookie Tackle Program, a youth football development opportunity designed by USA Football for kids to learn the game, at Jerome T. Oborne Sr. Stadium in Mentor, Ohio on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Browns will be joined by St. Ignatius head football coach and Browns youth football advisor Chuck Kyle and Mentor High School head football coach Steve Trivisonno, who are both supporting the advancement of Rookie Tackle and are consistent advocates for effective development resources for youth football athletes.
USA Football's Rookie Tackle was created to provide a playing structure and format to serve as a youth football development bridge between flag football and 11-man tackle. In line with other sports' models, Rookie Tackle will offer young participants an opportunity to be introduced to or progressively learn more about football fundamentals, strategy and the game itself prior to advancing to full 11-on-11, 100-yard competition that is equivalent in the high school, collegiate and professional ranks.
Launching in 2017, the Browns and local youth football organizations across the country will host USA Football Rookie Tackle pilot programs this fall to further introduce and evaluate the new education and skills-progression focused version of the sport.
"It is important that we keep evolving our game," said Trivisonno. "Our game is a great game at all levels, but we have to do a better job at the youth level with the combination of how we teach it and how we prepare the kids. We are doing a lot of good thing with our flag program and our 11-man program, but now we have to try to get that gap between the two so that we can bridge the kids and not make it that huge jump that maybe scares kids away a little bit. We can make it where it is a nice transition from flag to this Rookie Tackle league, to our 11-man, to our middle school and to our high school. It is trying to make a nice bridge between those different levels that we don't have right now."
"What we hope to do is to give kids a fun game where they can learn at a more controlled rate to develop their skills and the No. 1 major priority is to keep the fun going and give them a chance to get used to tackling before 11-man tackle football," said Kyle. "We have a game that is fun. It gives the kids a chance to work on all sorts of skills in football, and because you don't have 30 guys and have a team of 12 or 14, those kids get really good individual coaching."
"All of us at USA Football are excited for the demo day this weekend, and we thank the Cleveland Browns for partnering with us on this important initiative," said Scott Hallenbeck, CEO of USA Football. "The Browns leadership has been instrumental in building support across the pilot leagues and with high school coaches in Cleveland. We look forward to formally launching the other nine-plus Rookie Tackle leagues in early June."
The Cleveland Browns are the first NFL team to help coordinate USA Football's "modified tackle" football scrimmages and a Rookie Tackle pilot league within their home market as the two organizations continue their partnership and dedication to advance youth players' enjoyment of playing the country's most popular sport.
Details on Rookie Tackle:
- Designed for 7-on-7 competition but may also accommodate six to eight players per team
- A smaller playing field of 40 yards-by-35 yards, allowing for two games to be played at the same time
- Each team is allowed one coach in the huddle at all times to help instruct players
- Each individual player learns offensive and defensive positions, as well as at least one position inside and outside of the tackles (i.e., a line position and a skill position, no matter player's individual size)
- Players required to rotate positions and to help gain a comprehensive understanding of the sport's fundamentals
- All players, including linemen, begin each play in a two-point stance
- No special teams plays, including punts, kickoffs or field goals
The Browns' USA Football Rookie Tackle Demo Day is open to all interested youth football coaches and league organizers, parents and participants. Registration is currently open prior to Saturday's demonstration. For more information, visit www.ClevelandRookieTackle.com. Space is limited.
University Hospitals will have a trainer onsite for the event and will also provide items to participants.
In 2015, USA Football designed a form of Rookie Tackle or "modified tackle" football for youth players to pursue a "right-age, right-stage" approach to playing the sport, comparable to other sports' introductory youth forms, including tee-ball for baseball, 3-on-3 soccer and half-rink ice hockey. USA Football will pilot and observe Rookie Tackle play for youth football this season. USA Football will determine if all or some of this version of the sport may be recommended to youth football organizations as a potential division in the future.
USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the Browns and each of the NFL's other 31 teams.
About Browns Give Back:
The Cleveland Browns give back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team's signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/community. Remember to follow @BrownsGiveBack on Twitter and Instagram for the latest Browns community news, photos and more.
About Cleveland Browns Youth Football:
The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/community or follow on Twitter @BrownsYouthFB.
About USA Football:
USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport's national governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, scholastic and other amateur players. Follow USA Football (@USAFootball) on Facebook or on Twitter.