SUMMARY

Heads Up Football educates coaches all over the country how to teach proper tackling techniques and approved health protocols for concussions. It also emphasizes the positive role the game can play in children’s character development.

A Different Game at Lambeau

At 7:30 on a Saturday morning this summer, more than 50 coaches from the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area reported to Lambeau Field for a clinic to learn about concussions and head injuries.

One coach told WFRV-TV in Green Bay, “We are working hard to make our sport safer,” adding, “concussions and that sort of thing happen, but if you’re prepared for them then you can address them and handle it.”

Safety Begins with the Fundamentals

The clinic at Lambeau was developed by USA Football which holds dozens of clinics for coaches, parents and young athletes nationwide each year.

Using proceeds from a $45 million grant from the NFL Foundation, USA Football has created the Heads Up Football (HUF) program to teach football coaches and other player safety leaders how to strive to improve player safety for youth, high school and other amateur athletes.

This program strives to improve player safety for youth and high school players by training and certifying coaches on safety fundamentals; teaching proper tackling techniques; appointing Player Safety Coaches for every youth league to enforce safety protocols; ensuring proper equipment fitting; and teaching coaches, parents, and players how to recognize and treat concussions.

In February 2015, USA Football adopted new youth tackle football practice guidelines, which have been endorsed by leading medical organizations. These include clear definitions of contact and time limits on player-to-player full contact.

Adding a Safety Player Coach

Youth football clubs are encouraged to name one local coach a “Player Safety Coach.”

USA Football suggests these coaches have the following qualities:

  • An experienced, credible coach or official who has earned the respect of coaches and parents and is committed to a better, safer game
  • Strong reputation as a role model for players and responsive to parent questions and concerns
  • Leadership qualities, specifically related to teaching and interacting with coaches, parents and players
  • Shows willingness and a commitment to learn best practices and teach them in your organization

Building Character

Heads Up Football also stresses how the game can develop a child’s character, instilling perseverance and grit.

Today, more than 150,000 coaches are HUF-certified, and more than two thirds of youth leagues across the country, including all Pop Warner leagues, have implemented HUF, representing more than 1 million kids.