Interesting. Anyone interested in reducing head injuries in football should read this.
At the University of New Hampshire (amusingly described as “an NCAA powerhouse”), a study was performed in which half the team underwent specific tackling drills without helmets.
…during the 2014 preseason, half of the U.N.H. varsity football team began practicing twice a week without helmets, following a carefully prescribed series of drills. The other half of the team completed standard practices, with helmets.
During the regular season, the players assigned to the helmetless group continued to practice once per week without helmets.
Throughout this time, all team members wore helmets equipped with sensors that tracked the number and force of impacts to their heads.
Early in the season, head impacts were comparable in both groups, the researchers found. But as the season progressed, the players who occasionally practiced without helmets began to experience considerably fewer blows to their heads.
By the end of the season, they were hitting their heads about 30 percent less often in any given game or practice than the players who never took their helmets off during drills.
Perhaps as important from a practical standpoint, the coaches told Dr. Swartz that they felt that the players in the helmetless group were now tackling more effectively than the players who had not participated in helmetless drills.
UNH is not releasing a description of the specific helmetless drills, saying more research needs to be done.