Posted by Michael Barber, November 07, 2013 (last updated on October 09, 2020)
During the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving where the fall weather entices us outdoors, family football in the yard is a popular activity. Because families range in age and size, what should you consider before heading out to toss the ball around?
Consider Playing Touch Football
Families with tweens should avoid full contact football and play touch football instead. Kids also want to be involved in this family game. Some adjustments to play include no snapping the football to the quarterback and just allowing the tween quarterback to toss it. Make sure everyone understands a "touch" means the play is over. Set a count on how long a defensive player must wait until they can touch the rusher holding the football, the quarterback, or the wide receiver.
Wear the Right Clothing
Children may be dressed in their very best for the holiday, but are those tights and dress really the right clothing to wear during football play? If you plan on holding a family football rally in the yard this year make sure everyone, including adults wear warm and sturdy clothing.
If you're playing in cooler weather, gloves and layers are also recommended, however avoid items of clothing that have embellishments or strings (hoodies, hats, sweaters) that can catch on trees, twigs, or other players and cause a fall. Trips and falls can cause scrapes, cuts, and sprains even through durable clothing. Make sure you have a first-aid kit on hand and fully clean wounds. If cuts are severe or a person can't put weight on a limb, head to an urgent care center for proper medical treatment.
Pick the Right Space to Play
Before the family game, consider your yard. Is it large enough for family play? Do trees, plants, or other adornments block a clear area for play? Is your fall yard free of debris which can cause scrapes, cuts, or falls? Is your yard too near the street where players could come in contact with automobiles? If so, you may want to consider heading to the local park to play the holiday bowl. Community parks are maintained throughout the year, making it safer for family game time.
Consider Older Adults
Your teens may be eagerly waiting to tackle Grandpa but may be unaware of his fragile condition. Older adults may suffer from arthritis in the knees and arms making pulling, falling, tackling, and tugging more dangerous. Talk to your kids about how bones aren't as strong as we age. Assure them that playing by the rules will prevent injuries to elderly relatives. Let them know how easily a broken hip or bone can happen resulting in end of play and a trip to a walk-in clinic for senior emergency medical care.
Discuss the Rules Prior to Play
Livestrong.com offers basic rules for touch football. Review these rules with the entire family and make sure everyone understands what's allowed and what's not. Hold a question and answer session after the discussion so the young understand how the rules work and be sure to discuss how easily injuries can occur. Demonstrate correct play prior to beginning the game.
Consider Alternative Activities
For the very young and old, or those with a medical condition that prevents football play, find other activities they can do while the family game is played. This can be anything from being a sideline cheerleader, official scorer, making crafts inside the home, or collecting colorful fall leaves. Use your imagination to come up with "non-football" activities.
Holiday family football can be fun for all if everyone understand the rules and a clean area of play is chosen. Be sure to keep an eye on the very young and old and do talk to kids about injuries and how they may happen.