Two youth football leagues in the New Orleans area have committed to the future of youth football by adopting a new USA Football program dedicated to making the game better and safer. The Heads Up Football program ensures a positive youth football experience and advances player safety by providing leaguewide coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents and coaches.
USA Football is the official youth development partner of the NFL, the Saints and the league's other 31 teams. These leagues are among more than 900 youth football organizations nationwide that will incorporate Heads Up Football into its 2013 season.
Baton Rouge native and former LSU tight end BRIAN KINCHEN joins former Saints linebacker PAT SWILLING in working alongside leagues throughout the 2013 season as NFL Ambassadors. Kinchen, who played 14 NFL seasons with four different teams, helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVIII. Swilling was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1991 with the Saints and a four-time All-Pro selection. He finished his 13-year career with 107½ sacks.
Other former Saints serving as NFL Ambassadors include ERIC ALLEN (San Diego, Calif.), DEVERON HARPER (Charlotte, N.C.) and BRIAN HANSEN (punter).
Participating league coaches will be trained in Heads Up Football techniques before leading their teams this season. All head coaches and assistant coaches will complete USA Football's accredited Level 1 Coach Certification Course, which includes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols; proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting; and Heads Up Tackling techniques, which aim to take the head out of the line of contact.
Parents can help ensure their youth football players are participating in a better and safer brand of football, by visiting www.USAFootball.com, where they can enroll their league to be a Heads Up Football league and ensure that their coach is certified.
"The health and safety of every youth player is USA Football's No. 1 priority," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "These New Orleans-area leagues show exceptional dedication to their players, parents and coaches, and we are proud to have them be part of Heads Up Football. Each of them is committed to the highest standards of player safety and coaching education in all of youth sports."
Area leagues showing a commitment to players and coaches through Heads Up Football membership:
*LEAGUE LOCATION *
Goretti Park New Orleans, La.
Ascension Cougars Youth Football Gonzales, La.
Through Heads Up Football, each league will nominate a Player Safety Coaches to be trained by USA Football. Player Safety Coaches will evaluate and monitor Heads Up Football player safety protocols within the organization as well as work with league commissioners, coaches, parents and players throughout the season to provide on-site clinics and mentoring to ensure that coaching and player safety best practices are used.
Adopted in 2013 by youth leagues on a national level, Heads Up Football requires five primary elements:
Heads Up Tackling
· USA Football's Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.
Concussion recognition and response
· Coaches learn and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football's Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
· Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic and have them reinforced throughout the season.
· All coaches within a youth program are trained to teach the game's fundamentals by completing USA Football's nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
· Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.
Player Safety Coach
· Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football youth organization. This individual ensures compliance with Heads Up Football's player safety protocols, including coaching certification and conducting safety clinics for coaches, parents and players.
USA Football's Heads Up Tackling technique was developed with contributions from USA Football's Tackle Advisory Committee, which includes Northwestern head coach PAT FITZGERALD, UCLA head coach JIM MORA, former NFL running back MERRIL HOGE, Miami Christopher Columbus High School head coach CHRIS MERRITT and sports psychologist DR. DAVID YUKELSON.
Learn more about Heads Up football at: www.usafootball.com.
About USA Football:USA Football, the sport's national governing body, leads the game's development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association. USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competitions and awards more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies. Endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002, USA Football (www.usafootball.com) is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.