Many changes have been made in football from protective equipment to grabbing player’s facemasks. So, it probably comes as somewhat of a surprise that something as simple as moving the kickoff line could make such a big difference in the amount of concussions we see every year. As a matter of fact, just five yards forward from 35 to 40 could reduce concussions overall by 68 percent!

As it turns out, players are 5 times more likely to receive a concussion during the kickoff portion of the game than any other point! The reduction in distance helps to prevent the receivers and the team that performed the kick gain so much momentum that they end up knocking each other out.

The hope is that rather than running the ball forward, players will choose to perform what is called a “touchback” instead. After putting this theory to the test from 2016 to 2017, touchback plays actually increased from a meager 18%, to a whopping 48% by the end of the year! Clearly the new ruled worked, with far less occasions of concussion on the field. In total, concussions were reduced from nearly 11 per 1,000 plays to only 2 per 1,000 plays.

Although it may seem like a small number, it’s still 8 players who won’t receive possible permanent damage to their football careers. The players who don’t participate in the kickoff also saw less concussions by about half thanks to the new rule. However, 2016 was not the first time it was implemented; the NFL attempted to move the 30-yard line, to the 35th, which brought down number of injuries to the body, but not to the brain.

There is something left to be said about how football players are trained to play the game though. The positions that are actively Involved in the kickback play will benefit from the rule change, but the rest of the team’s players will continue to run at each other with full force, guaranteeing the potential for a mid-air collision.