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Youth Football Coaches get Safety Lesson from “Heads Up”

footballWESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Fifty football coaches from all over the region gathered for a safety training Saturday.

It was hosted by USA Football’s “Heads Up” program at South Hadley High School to help raise concussion awareness.

The program aims to make the sport safer with four key components: heads up tackling, heat and hydration training, proper fitting equipment, and concussion awareness.

“It’s great that all of these coaches are going to be teaching the same thing, to make the game safer and better,” said Heads Up Master Trainer Scott Taylor.

One of the program’s main focuses is taking the head out of football.

“Getting rid of some of the old ideas of wrap up, bite the ball, and everything else. Teaching them to keep their head and eyes up,” Taylor explained.

The coaches learned plenty of techniques to take home to their teams, and they even got to get out on the field and try some of them out themselves.

“I’ll come here, take in whatever I can, notes, whatnot. Then I will go back to my coaches, and we will have a similar class like this with the coaches,” West Springfield Player Safety Coach Mike Mineo said.

A lot of attention has been put on to football and brain injuries recently, with news stories like one-time Patriot’s player Junior Seau’s suicide potentially being linked to a series of concussions.

“I think it helps to change the perception of the game. Perception often dictates what is the truth of what’s going on. Football has always been a contact sport, but rarely has the objective been to hurt someone else. This emphasizes that,” noted Matt Burgess, a Master Trainer for the programs.

By preventing brain injuries, heads up trainers say they preserve kid’s ability to play, and their futures outside of the sport..

“They could be going on to cure some horrible disease, and if they suffer multiple brain traumas, they may not be that person. So we want to keep them safe, whatever they go on to do,” said Burgess.

Organizers hope that by teaching players proper techniques while they are still at the youth level could ultimately change the game.

30 other Heads Up clinics were held around the country today, and more are planned for the rest of the month of June.


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