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Football coaches from around the Historic Triangle and beyond will have the opportunity to become “Heads Up” certified Saturday during a USA Football camp at Grafton High School.
The camp is part of a larger initiative from USA Football to promote its “Heads Up Football” program, which is trying to implement proper tackling and blocking techniques in order to cut down on concussions.
Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which partners with USA Football to promote “Heads Up” awareness, show an increase in sport-related traumatic brain injuries among children 19 and under.
In 2009, an estimated 248,418 children in the U.S. were treated for sport-related traumatic brain injuries. From 2001 to 2009, emergency department visits related to traumatic brain injuries for children in the nation rose by 57 percent.
Those statistics are why Patrick Kane, a master trainer for USA Football who has been with the program for two years, will be walking an expected 30 to 50 coaches through lesson plans and drills that will highlight five key aspects: “Heads Up” tackling, concussion awareness, maintaining proper hydration, “Heads Up” blocking and proper equipment fitting.
“The goal is to get the head out of the game,” he said. “There’s no need to have your head involved in contact within the game. It’s a way to teach techniques that are better and safer than techniques that have been utilized in the past. You can do things to try to make [the game] safer and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The camp, which is being held in Yorktown for the first time, will be broken up into two portions that will help combine traditional classroom-style learning with hands-on learning.
Kane will spend the morning teaching coaches about concussion recognition and response, heat preparedness and hydration, equipment fitting and cardiac arrest protocols, which Kane said is the leading cause of death in youth sports.
After the morning session, coaches will be taken onto the football field and run through “Heads Up” tackling and blocking drills.
Once coaches have completed the program, which will be taught to youth and middle school coaches, as well as high school coaches, they will hopefully be in a position to teach “Heads Up Football” to their players and reduce serious injuries.
“You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse,” Kane said. “The more educated you are, the better you’re going to be. This is a way a football program can get better.”
Today is the last day to register for Saturday’s camp. For more information about the camp or to register, click here.