NFL Health Update: Heads Up Football expands to high schools

NFL HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE -- APRIL 2, 2014

HEADS UP FOOTBALL PROGRAM FLOURISHES, EXPANDS TO HIGH SCHOOLS

USA Football's Heads Up Football program far exceeded its original goal of reaching a few hundred youth football organizations last year when it launched the program, according to an Associated Press story. The program, which provides education and certification on issues ranging from proper tackling to equipment fitting, has been adopted by nearly 2,800 youth football organizations nationwide.

"Pioneering is exactly what it is turning out to be," former NFL running back and USA Football Board of Directors member Merril Hoge told The Associated Press.

The story also examined the goal of spreading the program to reach all 11,000 youth football leagues nationwide and to expand to the high school level as well.

"Football is like English," Heads Up Football Master Trainer Gabe Infante told the Associated Press. "We speak one language with a lot different dialects. Sometimes it's like we are all speaking a different language. At least when it comes to one of the most important aspects of the game, tackling, to speak the same language, to agree on certain principles, that would be huge. And that is what I think you are going to see with Heads Up Football." Infante also serves as head coach at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's Prep.

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PARTICIPATION IN TEAM SPORTS CAN IMPROVE CHILDREN'S HEALTH, SAYS NEW STUDY

According to a new study from Australian researchers recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, children who participated in team sports between the ages of 8-10 had better physical health and school performance.

Girls in particular saw the benefits of participating in team sports, including a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

"Girls who played sport paid better attention in class, kept up with school work, and generally functioned better at school," said researcher Dr. Stewart Vella.

Involvement in team sports also resulted in improvement of self-esteem and increased positive interactions with others.

"There is something about the social context of team sports that make them very beneficial, developing positive social networks and even protecting against depression," said Vella.

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USA FOOTBALL INSTRUCTS HEADS UP FOOTBALL 'MASTER TRAINERS'

USA Football trained 23 football experts -- including high school coaches and former NFL and college players -- as Heads Up Football Master Trainers during a workshop March 29-30 in Indianapolis.

Following their training, Master Trainers will instruct youth leagues in their regions on Heads Up Football principles and teach youth league- and high school-appointed Player Safety Coaches, who will oversee their programs' implementation of the highest national coaching standards for football. These standards include completion of USA Football's Level 1 Youth Coach Certification Course or High School Certification Course, as well as conducting a Heads Up Football Coaches Clinic and a Heads Up Safety Clinic for parents and players. Player Safety Coaches monitor their leagues' practices and games throughout the season.

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Spring is the start of Heads Up Football registration for the 2014 youth football season. To learn more, visit www.usafootball.com/headsup.

-- NFL Communications

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