By: Allan M. Siegel
Heads Up Football is a program funded and run by the non-profit organization, USA Football. Its goal is to train athletes from the youth, high school, college and professional level to play the game as safely as possible. The program focuses on three main areas including proper tackling techniques, concussion awareness, and equipment fitting.
The program is designed to take the head out of the game. Players are taught to keep their heads and eyes up during a tackle to minimize or eliminate contact to the head. If a player is taught this when learning the game, he will carry it with him through all levels of his career. Making the game safer for not only himself, but also for any player he faces. The program also helps provide guidelines for how a helmet and its interior padding should properly fit, as well as guidelines in spotting brain injury symptoms.
The program teaches these safety techniques through designated Player Safety Coaches. Each league that chooses to join the program selects a Player Safety Coach to attend an educational course. The Player Safety Coach then ensures that the safety techniques are properly implemented in every single team in the league. This coach also supervises tackling techniques throughout the season, both in games and at practices, to ensure that all players are using the proper methods.
The goal of the program is to have every youth football league across the nation practicing these techniques to eventually make the game safer at every level. Parents can also receive educational information to make sure that their children are playing the game as safely as possible and that they are properly outfitted. It can also help parents be a part of the first line of defense by helping them to spot concussion symptoms in their own children. When you sign your child up for football camp this summer or join a league next Fall, be sure to ask if the organization is a part of the Heads Up Football program.