Pop Warner will become the first national football program at any level to eliminate the three-point stance in further efforts to make the sport safer for young players.
The nation's longest-serving youth football organization, headquartered in Langhorne, Pa., said Thursday the ban will be introduced in Pop Warner's three youngest divisions this season. It's aimed at changing how offensive and defensive linemen engage in contact when the ball is snapped.
Under the new rule, players in Tiny Mite (5 to 7 years old), Mitey Mite (7 to 9) and Junior Pee Wee (8 to 10) will not be allowed to position themselves on the line with their hand on the ground before the snap. Instead, they must either be upright or in a modified squat position with their hands on their legs.
"We believe this change is another step in creating a safer, better football experience for young people," said Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. "By moving away from the three-point stance at our youngest levels we are changing how players are introduced to the sport and how they learn to play the game. We are also setting the stage for our higher levels of play to adopt the change. Because our sport has been willing to evolve over the past 150 years it is safer than ever, while maintaining what makes it so great."
Pop Warner will use the 2019 season to assess the new rule in the younger divisions and will consider implementing it later for the program's higher levels.
Also changing in September: no kickoffs at the Pee Wee (9 to 11 years old) level. Pop Warner's in 2016 rule barred kickoffs in its three youngest age groups. The ball following a score or to start a half will be placed at the 35-yard line.