Terms of Use

This information is currently not accessible to residents living outside of Ontario. For more information on your own province’s Safety Guidelines, please consult with your provincial Ministry of Education.

Ce contenu n’est pas disponible à l’extérieur de l’Ontario. Veuillez communiquer avec le ministère de l’Éducation de votre province pour des renseignements sur les Lignes directrices sur la sécurité de votre province.

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Football - Tackle


Secondary - Interschool 2018

Higher Risk Activity


A fully stocked first aid kit must be readily accessible. (Consult Appendix D - Sample First Aid Kit)

A working communication device (e.g., cell phone) must be accessible.

Determine that all equipment is safe for use (e.g., no sharp edges, sharp corners, cracks, or splinters). Students must be encouraged to report equipment problems to the coach.

Parents must be informed about the importance of an annual equipment inspection by an accredited equipment reconditioner.

A member of the coaching staff must supervise the issuing and proper fitting of equipment including equipment supplied by the athlete.

The coaching staff must approve any exchange of equipment among players.

The minimum protective equipment that must be worn for all contact situations includes:

  • a full fit interior mouth guard
  • a properly fitted (as per manufacturer’s guidelines) and properly worn helmet
  • shoulder pads
  • hip-tailbone pads
  • thigh pads
  • knee protection

Student athletes must receive instruction on how to adjust and maintain the equipment properly prior to wearing football gear.

The helmets must bear a clearly legible and legal NOCSAE warning sticker, in order to prove that the helmet meets the NOCSAE safety standard.

Football helmets must be inspected annually (e.g., equipment manager, trained coach, reconditioning company). Where helmet shows visible defects (e.g., cracks) or has reached manufacturers years of use (i.e., 10 years) it must be removed from service. Football helmets must be reconditioned as determined by an accredited equipment re-conditioner. Football helmets must be re-certified by an accredited equipment re-conditioner as per the manufacturer's requirements.

Shoulder pads must be inspected annually (e.g. equipment manager, trained coach, reconditioning company). Where shoulder pad shows loss of protective integrity or is cracked it must be removed from service.

Bladder inflation devices must be accessible on-site for helmets that have air.

Football helmets must be replaced after 10 years from date of manufacture.

For students who request to supply their own football helmet, the coach must ensure that the helmet meets the following NOCSAE reconditioning and recertification standards:

  • A recertification statement and label must be on the inside of the helmet with the:
    • name of the recertifying company
    • date of recertification – as per the manufacturer's requirements
  • The helmet is less than 10 years from date of manufacture.

All shields (visors) must be clear. Coloured or tinted visors must not be worn unless medical certification by an ophthalmologist is presented.

Down-box and yardage sticks personnel must be trained in safe use of equipment.

Blocking sleds must be checked regularly to make sure they are safe for use.

Practice equipment, such as blocking sleds and bags, must be kept at a safe distance from practising players when not in use.

Goalposts must be padded if in field of play. Padding must be 1.8m (6’) high.

Use footballs appropriate to the size and ability of group (e.g., smaller football or foam ball).


Appropriate clothing must be worn. Clothing in practices and games must be suitable for weather conditions. Suitable footwear that satisfies football regulations and that is properly maintained must be worn.

The wearing of jewellery during practices and competitions must meet the rules of the governing body of the sport/activity, OFSAA, and local athletic association. Consult the Fundamentals of Safety when jewellery is not addressed by the governing body of the sport/activity, OFSAA or the local athletic association.

When long hair poses a safety risk it must be secured. Devices (e.g. hair pins, clips and barrettes) used to tie back long hair must not present a safety concern.


Determine that all facilities are safe for use. Students must be encouraged to report facility problems to the coach.

Playing area must be inspected regularly, free from debris and obstructions allow for safe footing and traction and be well removed from traffic areas.

For practices: Holes, hazards (e.g. glass, rocks, sprinkler heads, sewer grates), and severely uneven surfaces must be identified. The conditions must be made safe or the activity must be modified or moved to a safe location. Hazards which cannot be removed must be brought to the attention of the athletes. Coach must notify principal/designate of unsafe field conditions.

For competitions: Where hazardous conditions that cannot be avoided are identified by the coach and/or officials the conditions must be made safe or the competition must be cancelled or moved to a safe location. Coach must notify principal/designate of unsafe field conditions.

Boundary lines must be clearly visible. Lime must not be used to line the field.

Turning points, finish lines, end zones, and boundaries must be a safe distance away from walls, stages, equipment, trees, posts, natural hazards, and holes. Walls, stages, equipment, trees and posts must not be used as turning points, finish lines, end zones or boundaries. A marker (e.g. line or pylon) must be designated and be properly identified.

Spectator stands and player benches must be well removed from playing field.

Consult the Fundamentals of Safety for the opening and closing of gymnasium divider doors/curtains.

When running takes place off school site for a warm-up or conditioning run:

  • Coaches must do a safety check ‘walk through’ in order to identify potential problems prior to initial use of route or course.
  • Coaches must outline to the students the route or course (e.g., notice of areas to approach with caution) before the start of the run.
  • Coaches must determine that students are not crossing busy intersections unless directly supervised.

Special Rules/Instructions

Be aware of students whose medical condition (e.g., asthma, anaphylaxis, casts, previous concussion, orthopaedic device) may affect participation. (Consult Fundamentals of Safety)

Any player with a playing cast must provide a doctor’s note or parent’s signed permission, indicating it is safe for him/her to play.

Any knee braces or casts must be approved by the official prior to the commencement of the game.

Any exposed orthopaedic apparatus must be soft or padded.

Students must not participate in the activity until they receive information on concussion prevention specific to the activity, inherent risks of the activity (e.g. outline possible risks and ways to minimize the risks), and procedures and rules for safe play. Students must receive instruction on the importance of reporting symptoms related to a suspected concussion.

Refer to the school board’s transportation procedures related to communicating with parents/guardians the location of an off-site activity and the means of transportation used as well as to the need for obtaining parent/guardian permission.

Previous training, fitness level and the length of time and intensity of physical activity must be taken into consideration.

The activities must be based on skills that are taught.

The skills must be taught in proper progression.

A proper warm-up and cool-down must be included.

Fair play and rules of the sport must be taught and strictly enforced.

Training must include flexibility, strength and cardiovascular enhancing activities.

There must be a minimum of 4 full days in between each team’s regular scheduled games. However, in the event of unforeseen circumstances (e.g, weather), make-up or rescheduled games must be scheduled with a minimum of two full days in between (e.g., if a team has a regular scheduled game on Monday and that game must be rescheduled, it could be played the same week on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, while still having 2 days between the rescheduled Friday game and the next regular scheduled game the following Monday).

Each athlete must have actively participated in at least eight days of practices that include safe tackling, blocking, and running in each practice before playing in their first game.

Safe blocking and tackling techniques (e.g., head-up tackling) must be taught and reinforced throughout the season. No head blocking or spear tackling techniques must be taught.

Coaches need to assess heat, humidity and physical condition of athletes when planning practices.

Players must not compete in two tackle football leagues at the same time. Coaches must inform parents/guardians and players that they cannot compete in two tackle football leagues at the same time (e.g., high school football and rep football).

Adequate liquid replacement (personal water bottles, water fountains) must be accessible for students before, during and after physical activity to prevent dehydration.

Environmental considerations

When environmental conditions may pose a risk to student safety (e.g. thunderstorms [lightning] or student(s) with asthma, triggered by air quality), teachers must take into consideration their school board/school’s protocols and procedures related to:

  • environmental conditions (consult Appendices F-1 to F-6: Lightning Protocol, Sample Air Quality Index, Sample Temperature, Tornado, Ultra Violet Index, and Wind Velocity Preparedness Guides]); and
  • insects (e.g., mosquitoes and ticks [consult the school/school board’s protocols and/or regional Public Health Department’s website]).

Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to environmental conditions and be made aware of ways to protect themselves (e.g. sun burn, heat stroke).

At all times the school board’s weather and insect procedures are the minimum standards. In situations where a higher standard of care is presented (e.g., outside activity providers, facility/program coordinators), the higher standard of care must be followed.


Constant visual supervision during initial practice of contact skills.

Subsequently, on-site supervision is required.

Students must be informed that the use of equipment and the gymnasium are prohibited without supervision. In addition to verbal communication, the doors must be locked or signs must be posted indicating that students are not allowed to use the gym unless appropriately supervised.

Coaching Qualifications

The head coach must demonstrate knowledge of the sport, skills and strategies to the principal or designate.

All coaches must be familiar with and implement where applicable the criteria outlined in Appendix P – Coaching Expectations.

One member of the coaching staff must be knowledgeable of the Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines concussion protocol or school board concussion protocol.

At least one member of the coaching staff must be trained in the NCCP Safe Contact module every five (5) years. This coach must be present to supervise all contact drills and all competitions.

Each member of the coaching staff must have qualifications which are derived from at least one of the following:

  • NCCP Community Sport Coach – Novice Coach Course
  • Trained in any of the NCCP Football Courses - Positional Coach, Coordinator, Head Coach
  • Coaches that have in the past completed a level 1, 2, 3 or 4 certification (Football Canada will have transferred these designations into the current NCCP designations).
  • Attendance at a tackle football clinic or workshop, provided by an instructor who is knowledgeable of the activity and where safety is addressed, within the last five years) that is recognized as NCCP Professional Development.
  • Accreditation as a NCCP Learning Facilitator for Football
  • Past experience within the last 3 years as a coach in tackle football, having knowledge of the activity (e.g., appropriate skills and progressions) and current safety practices as outlined in the Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines.

NCCP Designation chart:

  • In-Training = I am taking a course
  • Trained = I have completed the course but not been evaluated
  • Certified = I have completed the course, completed any workbooks and that I have been successfully evaluated.

As of September 1, 2020 any individual providing instruction must be Safe Contact trained.

As of September 1, 2020, a coach new to tackle football must become Safe Contact trained within one year of their first date of coaching and must have coaching qualifications derived from at least one of the qualifications listed.

For more information on sport-specific NCCP training please visit coach.ca.

First Aid

The individual who takes responsibility for providing first aid to injured athletes must:

  • as a minimum, have a current first aid certification from a recognized first aid provider (e.g., St. John Ambulance , Red Cross) that includes CPR B or C and training in head, neck and spinal injury management;
  • be in the area and readily accessible during the entire practice/competition;
  • follow their school’s First Aid Emergency Response (consult Appendix E - Sample First Aid Plan and Sample First Aid Emergency Response);
  • follow their school board's concussion protocol for a suspected concussion; and
  • not be a participant in the activity.

Also see Fundamentals of Safety section to view complete safety requirements.