AMY LEHRER

The Heads Up Football Program Creates a Safer Playing Environment

The national governing body of American football and the official youth development partner of the NFL, USA Football, created Heads Up FootballSM, the new standard for teaching football fundamentals. Fully supported by the NFL, the NFL foundation, the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Heads Up FootballSM program is revolutionizing football culture. Clare Graff, a publicity manager for the NFL, explained, “The number one goal of Heads Up Football is to provide our kids the safest possible environment to learn the fundamentals of the game.”

Leagues wishing to become Heads Up Certified must adopt five tenets: educate coaches, learn how to recognize and respond to concussions, teach proper tackling techniques, ensure proper equipment fitting and maintenance and comply with designated safety protocols. Every coach must take USA Football’s nationally Heads_Up_Football_logos__Primaryaccredited Level 1 Coaching Education course, and coaches, parents and players must attend clinics prior to and during each season to learn concussion protocols. Then, during the season through a series of non-contact and low-contact drills to assure safety and proper skill progression, players learn tackling fundamentals that include keeping their heads up and out of the line of contact. Learning correct tackling techniques early enables athletes to build muscle memory, which will protect them as they progress. Coaches, parents and players are included in all training sessions so that everyone can help make football safer.

NFL ambassadors to the program like San Diego native Eric Allen – a former American football cornerback who played for three NFL teams – work alongside players, parents and coaches to promote safe ways to learn football fundamentals. The ambassadors enjoy supporting their communities by making football safer and more efficient than it was when they played. Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Dr. Gerard Gioia, expressed his support by stating, “I am particularly impressed by the Heads Up Tackling program’s emphasis on proper body positioning. I believe training of our coaches in these ‘head safe’ techniques, together with an understanding of the negative consequences of multiple blows to the head, will better protect our athletes.”

As of May 14, more than 1,300 youth leagues have adopted Heads Up FootballSM for the 2013 season, and the goal is to bring it to all 10,000 youth football leagues across the United States. And due to the safety benefits and support offered, some high school football programs may adopt and endorse Heads Up Football as early as this season.

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Participating Leagues in San Diego North County Communities:

92127 – 4S Ranch, Del Sur, Santa Luz
Del Norte Nighthawks Youth Football and Cheer
San Diego Youth Football and Cheer
 
92128 – Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Mountain Ranch
Rancho Bernardo Pop Warner
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer
 
92024 – Encinitas
La Costa Canyon Pop Warner
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer
 
92131 – Scripps Ranch
Scripps Ranch Pop Warner Football & Cheer Association
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer
 
92130 – Carmel Valley
Torrey Pines Pop Warner
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer
 
92009 / 92011 – Carlsbad
Carlsbad Pop Warner Football
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer
 
92064 – Poway
Poway Pop Warner
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer
 
92129 – Rancho Peñasquitos
Rancho Peñasquitos Pop Warner
Palomar Conference Pop Warner Football and Cheer