Tackling Injuries in the NFL

By Kim Smiley

It’s no secret that a lot of players get hurt in the National Football League (NFL).

But why does this happen?  Why do so many players get hurt?  And what may be a better question, is there a way to prevent injuries?

This problem can be approached by performing a root cause analysis built as a Cause Map using root cause analysis software you probably already own – Microsoft Excel.

The first step is to determine how the organizational goals are impacted.  In this example, the safety goal will be considered.  The safety goal is impacted because there is a potential for injury.  Causes can then be added to the Cause Map by asking “why” questions.

Why do football players get hurt? Football players routinely slam into each other and the ground. It’s the nature of football. Even when the rules are followed, football is a very physically demanding sport with a potential for injuries to occur.

Another reason players get hurt is that they are wearing inadequate protection to prevent injury. Right now the rules only require uniforms, helmets and shoulder pads.  Most players wear very little padding because they want to maximize their speed and mobility.

As a potential solution to this problem, NFL officials are reconsidering the rules that govern the pads worn by players. Currently knee, hip and thigh pads are only recommended, but there is possibility that this will be changed for the 2011 season.

Twelve teams will experiment with lightweight pads during training camps and preseason games this year.  The players will have the option to continue wearing the pads during the actual season if they want.

Depending on the outcome of the trials, there is the possibility that additional padding will be mandatory starting in the 2011 season.  Hopefully, the additional padding will be successful at preventing some injuries, but only time will tell.