How to make the game safer. That’s what USA Football’s ‘Heads Up Football’ program is all about.
As the sports national governing body, “USA Football…started a two-year study in 2012 that examines player health and safety in organized youth tackle football. Of the nearly 2,000 players monitored over six states the first year, fewer than 4 percent suffered concussions, and there were no catastrophic head or neck injuries reported.”
Recently a Q&A was conducted with former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer who is taking to the road in Idaho and Alaska at the start of youth football season to “reinforce the fundamentals of Heads Up Football.” Here are his answers prior to making this trip.
“Q: Why did you decide to become involved in Heads Up Football? Why is it important to you?
A: I became involved because I believe that many youth football players are being instructed incorrectly. With Heads Up Football’s basic instructions on tackling technique, I believe that many injuries can be avoided, therefore allowing young players the ability to continue playing the sport they love.
Q: What do you hope to share with the youth football players when you travel to Alaska?
A: I hope to share the Heads Up Football tackling techniques, which focus on seeing what you’re hitting and not leading with the crown of your head. I also want to share some of my experiences playing youth football, and the fact that you have to play hard and with no fear of injury, but most importantly you have to use proper technique. This means that your head is not a weapon when hitting, but instead is used to get you in the right position to hit properly.
Q: How have you seen attitudes toward sports safety change?
A: I have definitely seen a shift in attitudes about sport safety. More coaches and even the players pay closer attention to their teammates during competition, making sure they are not playing if they have sustained any sort of head injury at all. There still needs to be a monumental shift in how the game is taught to our youth. They are not highly trained athletes like those in the NFL, and they need constant coaching on proper tackling and hitting techniques.”