USA Football conducted a Heads Up Football Player Safety Coach clinic at Chargers Park on Saturday.
Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to a better and safer game. During the all-day event, nearly 70 San Diego youth football coaches were taught proper tackling techniques, concussion recognition and response protocols, instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting, practice drills and much more.
“One of the things USA Football and the NFL is trying to do is create a different culture when it comes to football,” said former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Michael Haynes, who served as one of the instructors. “For the longest time there was an old school mentality that was causing players to get hurt. So we’re trying to change that. What we’re trying to do today is teach the same fundamentals and terminology and explain to them why we’re doing what we’re doing. We had a doctor come in to explain why we’re doing what we’re doing and we need to be on the same page. A lot of these coaches are thankful. In pop warner there aren’t a lot of regulations. You have volunteer coaches that many haven’t played or coached before. So we’re giving them basic fundamentals and we’ll continue to monitor these guys.”
The coaches in attendance were grateful for the clinic, and they are eager to use the techniques they were taught. For many, it’s very personal as they coach their own sons.
“Basically we’ve been taught how to revise our old-school techniques, such as how to tackle,” said Sascha Cooper, head coach of the junior midget Marietta Hammerhawks. “I’m almost 50, and I was taught to tackle with my head. That’s what I’d hit. Now with my son playing football, I don’t want him doing that stuff. So I did a little research and found out about this program and I’ve been teaching it ever since. Now instead of dad teaching son the way he learned, it’s a whole new safer mentality. And I love it.”
About USA Football: USA Football leads the game’s development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association. USA Football (www.usafootball.com), endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002, provides more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies.