INDIANAPOLIS -- USA Football's youth player safety program takes a major step this weekend with the first workshops for its Heads Up Football initiative.
The national governing body of the sport in the United States will conduct the workshops Saturday and Sunday, with 21 trainers teaching the concepts of Heads Up Football to youth league leaders from across the country.
Among the youth coaches taking part will be former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry; Chuck Kyle, head coach at Cleveland's St. Ignatius High School, winner of 11 Ohio Division I state titles and three USA Today national championships; and John Roderique, head coach at Webb City (Mo.) High School, winner of eight state championships and formerly an assistant with NCAA Division II national champion Pittsburg State University.
"Youth leagues have a tremendous opportunity in 2013 to adopt USA Football's Heads Up Football program," Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "USA Football has earned my trust -- they put the safety of our kids first and offer the training youth coaches need to be exceptional teachers.
"All of us in the football community, at each level of the game, need to be committed to raising youth football's standards, and Heads Up Football does that."
Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to a safer game and features proper tackling techniques; education of leagues on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussion recognition and response protocols; and instruction on properly fitting helmets and shoulder pads.
"Heads Up Football promotes a safer, better game," USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck said. "We are proud to have this group help us lead America's youth football community as Heads Up Football master trainers, helping to set the highest standards of player safety and coaching education in any youth sport."
In the program, coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic, then have them reinforced throughout the season. Proper tackling without using the head is taught, as well.
The tackling technique was developed with contributions from USA Football's Tackle Advisory Committee. Members of the committee include Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, UCLA coach Jim Mora and former NFL running back Merril Hoge.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press