The NFL and its 32 teams announced support this week for USA Football and the launch of Heads Up Football, which emphasizes “a smarter and safer way to play and teach youth football, including proper tackling and taking the head out of the game.”
The NFL will promote the Heads Up Football program, which is funded by the NFL,during nationally televised preseason games, through in-stadium banners and field stencils and digitally on team websites.
USA Football claims it has trained more than 80,000 volunteer youth coaches since 2007. Its curriculum covers “football’s fundamentals and player safety content, including concussion awareness and management protocols, player hydration and proper equipment fitting.”
“USA Football and the NFL continue our commitment to place great care and emphasis on player safety for the more than 3 million children who enjoy the fun and inherent team-first values of our game,” USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “Through our Heads Up Football program, we are determined to make youth football even better and safer for our kids, and we encourage all youth sports to share this commitment with us.”
“The NFL and its teams are pleased to join USA Football in placing the health and well-being of our children first when it comes to safer play,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We share USA Football’s emphasis on player safety. We strongly endorse how Heads Up Football supports, instructs and strengthens the sport at its foundation, namely the coaches and parents who give of themselves for a better and safer game for their kids.”
Heads Up Football organizers said the aim is “to evolve the sport’s tackling instruction and terminology. Players who are taught tackling skills through Heads Up Football will ‘dip and rip,’ making contact in an ascending motion powered by legs and hips while ripping their arms upward around the ball carrier. Heads Up Football continues the sport’s evolution and encourages coaches to avoid tackling instruction such as ‘bite the ball’ or ‘head across,’ which places a player’s head in the line of contact.”