A new University of New Hampshire study suggests practicing football without helmets can lead to less head trauma.
The study found UNH Wildcats who regularly practiced a short tackling drill without a helmet sustained 28 percent less head trauma over the season than players who did the same drill with a helmet. Practicing without a helmet makes players feel more vulnerable, so they learn safe tackling behaviors that protect them in games, says Erik Swartz, the study's lead author.
"Learning it properly ought to be done actually without the helmet on along the full continuum - whether it's a 5-year old or a 20-year old," says Swartz.
The study was small, with only 50 players total. But with funding from the NFL, Swartz is expanding the research to high school players around the state.