When their sons wanted to move from flag football to tackle football several years ago, Brigid and Jeremy Ling didn’t feel the boys were ready for the leap into tackle football. It was because of uncertainty surrounding safety that the Lings founded TackleBar.
TackleBar aims to keep kids safer while they transition into tackle football. Players wear football equipment, such as a helmet and shoulder pads, while also wearing a TackleBar, a harness with two foam bars across the lower back. “This helps teach the kids proper form. They have to wrap their arms around to rip off the bars, but they aren’t tackling each other to the ground,” says Tim Healy, president and CEO.
Healy became a part of the TackleBar team after he coached his son’s team in the first season of TackleBar football, and he saw the importance and impact this innovation has on the sport. “Other than TackleBar, there is no in-between level of football after flag and before tackle,” he says.
Eden Prairie Youth Football is one of the many communities that has embraced TackleBar into its program; there are more than 30 communities involved with TackleBar in Minnesota.
“IMAC’s [Independent Metro Athletic Conference] numbers were way down, and when they made the decision to use TackleBar for their seventh and eighth graders, their numbers rose by 38 percent in the first year,” Healy says.
Brigid says that in the two years TackleBar has been used, there were only four minor injuries on all of the participating teams, and none of them were concussions.
“The heart of TackleBar is to provide an opportunity for kids to learn the fundamentals and play football in a safe way,” Brigid says. “We hope that TackleBar will be seen as the ideal youth football game before the transition to tackle.”