Onalaska youth football program implements TackleBar system for safety

The Onalaska Park and Recreation Department is eliminating full contact for its fifth- and sixth-grade youth football program. The coaching staff has a new technique to help teach kids the game without the risk of injury.

“We are going to our TackleBar system,” said Dan Wick, director of OPRD.

It’s a system specifically designed to prevent harmful injuries.

“It’s a bar that they wear on their back,” Wick said. “It teaches the kids to wrap up and get their shoulder pad into them.”

He said it gives every child a chance to play.

“We want to teach kids all positions,” Wick said. “Every kid will play on the line. They’ll play in skilled positions.”

He said they have already seen an impact in their numbers.

“Our numbers are good. It’s staying more consistent than what we have had in the past,” Wick said.

It also gives parents like Jim Phillips peace of mind.

“The transition from flag football right into tackle, I think this is a great in-between,” Phillips said.

Coaches are still able to teach young athletes everything they need to know.

“It’s creating that fever that they want more and the desire to learn,” Wick said.

Down the road, they hope these 60 individuals will still have the interest to continue playing America’s game.

“We don’t care about the scores in the game, we don’t care about the records,” Wick said. “What we want is the kids who are playing this to continue playing and help our high school football program be successful.”

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