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Our Mission

USA Football’s Rookie Tackle is a small-sided tackle football game designed to be implemented within youth football leagues and clubs across the country as a child's first experience to tackle football. USA Football believes that a developmental approach to the game driven by high-quality coaching will improve athlete enjoyment, participation and performance. By modifying the game at younger age groups and educating coaches, commissioners, officials and parents on the game adjustments, mechanics and skills, we can create an age-appropriate game that achieves these goals.




Implementation and Game Philosophy

Like all other forms of youth football, USA Football envisions leagues and clubs adopting the Rookie Tackle game structure and adding this offering to their league pathway. While USA Football will provide the initial game structure and rule book, we are aware it will be governed and implemented at local levels. As such, the number of players on the field may vary from six to eight to meet community needs, registration numbers or individual circumstances. It is important to note that the underpinning research that supports the model is based on tests conducted following the exact age and game formats listed below.




The goals of the Rookie Tackle game are:

  1. All participants learn to play all positions and learn all football skills that are required by the game.
  2. Maximize player enjoyment and skill development.
  3. Ensuring all players have meaningful playing time and the opportunity for improvement and success.
  4. Providing a bridge between flag football and the 11-player, full-field tackle version.
  5. Encouraging leagues to play on a field size that is appropriately scaled to the age and skill level of the youth football player.
  6. Encouraging a fast-paced game with more plays, greater activity and the promotion of fun.
  7. Emphasizing fundamental skill development by isolating situations for players to showcase their abilities via formation regulations and limited field size.
  8. Allowing leagues and clubs to maximize field space by playing two games at a time on one regulation-sized football field.
  9. Limiting roster sizes to provide more focused, individualized coaching attention during practice and on game day.
  10. Allowing leagues and clubs to run a fall season with limited registration numbers through smaller team sizes.
  11. USA Football recognizes that local community situations differ greatly. Limitations on the number of volunteer coaches available, registration, field space or equipment may lead to different needs. Because of these situations, USA Football has adopted rules for 6-, 7- and 8-player versions of Rookie Tackle.

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5791 Birdie Lane
Mentor, OH 44060