Football is one of the most physically demanding sports out there, and with new research regarding the serious long term effects of brain injuries like concussions that are all too common in the gridiron, the NFL is pushing player safety all across the country, even bringing USA Football’s Heads Up program to east Idaho this weekend.
“The more kids feel safe, and the more kids feel confident, the more kids are going to continue to play and enjoy the game,” said Wayne Voorhees, a Heads Up Football Master Trainer.
With more than 20 years of coaching on his resume, USA Football’s Coach Voorhees spent the day at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls training coaches from all around the region.
“Our youth organization stretches from Shelley, Idaho, to Driggs, about 2,500 youth players, so we will have a player safety coach from each area here today that will be trained by USA Football,” said Upper Valley Grid Kid’s Vice President, Doug Swanson.
The clinic certified that PSC’s in concussion training, heat and hydration, equipment fitting, and a tackling program, and they will turn around and certify the other coaches in their league, hopefully boosting player safety all across the state.
“Instead of having different processes taught in different areas, or maybe how equipment’s being fitted, or what equipment we’re buying, it kind of puts us all on the same page and it just kind of organizes us and helps us implement the safety program all across the board,” added Swanson.
Safety is the number one goal of the clinic, and the number one priority in the youth football programs, but learning these correct techniques tends to trickle down into talent as well, increasing the overall skill level of our growing players.
“Once you learn fundamentals at the basic beginnings of football, you’re going to carry them however far that goes. So whether it’s high school, whether it’s college, or it’s the NFL, we’re going to change the game one kid at a time, starting with the youth group,” added Coach Voorhees.
Football still isn’t for the faint of heart, but the Heads Up Program is doing their best to help the players and parents rest easy, from East Idaho youth football, and beyond.
“Football is a physical sport, but certainly not meant to hurt or for them to be scared,” said Swanson, “so if you teach them at an early age to do things properly and correct, and to have the right equipment on, and to be coached right, they’re more likely to stay involved in the sport.”
The coaches spent about 8 hours at the clinic this weekend, learning the same proper techniques and training that heads up football is teaching all across the country, leveling the playing field for athletes to matter what youth league they grew up in.