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Coaches 'Tackle' Concussion Prevention

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Around 170,000 youth received concussions while playing a sport from 2001-2009. It’s a statistic that brought coaches together from around the Midwest Saturday to learn new, safer, tackling techniques for their youth football players.

USA Football put together a new program called ‘Heads Up Football.’ The purpose of the program is to give youth football coaches new ways to teach their players how to tackle without making as much contact. And for these 16 coaches, let’s just say, on Saturday they got quite the workout learning these new techniques.

For these coaches, it’s out with the old, and in with the new, to keep their football players safer.
“As more and more statistics come out and more research towards concussions and other injuries (is done) we have really gravitated towards making it a safer game,” said Ken Sproles, President South Dakota Junior Football
Sproles said with millions of youth football players receiving concussions each year; he wants to prevent any of the 2,700 players in South Dakota's league from being a part of that statistic. So on Saturday, coaches from around the Midwest took an eight hour class to 'tackle' the issue head on.

“I think just an opportunity to come together with other coaches and talk about these issues of concussions and safety for kids is such a good benefit,” said Sproles.
The class is broken into three different areas; equipment fitting, concussion awareness, and heads up tackling.

“Coaches in the past have used terms like, ear hole them, or bite the football, or put your face mask on the ball. Those are terms that mean use your head and your helmet,” said Master Trainer Tom Bainter.

But Bainter said now the focus is on the player tackling using their front shoulder pads.
“And to tackle with our body to again keep the head out of it, and hopefully making it safer and reducing injuries to the head,” Bainter said.

For Sproles, making these moves was easier when he was football player, but he knows it’s for the future of the game.

“I have a passion for football, and I want to make it as safe it possibly can be,” Sproles said.

After Saturday’s clinic, the coaches will go back and teach a four hour class on what they learned to other coaches on their team. Then the parents and players will also learn the new techniques.

USA Football is the youth development partner of the NFL.
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