USA Football Certification

USA Football is the leading youth football governing body in the USA.  In partnership with the NFL they have developed the Heads Up Tackling and Heads Up Blocking programs.  These programs are part of the required certification that ALL GEJFA coaches must receive before being allowed to coach youth football. 

The focus of both Heads Up Tackling and Heads Up Blocking is the removal of the head as part of the play.  Teaching young players how to properly tackle and block without the use of their head is one of the more important steps to ensuring a fun, safe sports environment for all football players. 

At Structural Sports we teach the Heads Up Tackling technique all summer long against air and padded dummies.  We do this so that young players get a head start on learning the correct safe way to tackle (and block) as they enter the football season.  Learning to do something takes time and nothing is more important than learning how to the play the game the safe way.

11 Concussion Myths That Could Hurt Your Child

The body of this article was taken from a piece originally posted on that was written by Jennifer Kelly Geddes.

Coaches Intro - Darren Trencher

In my 15+ years of being involved in youth sports no one topic has been more widely discussed than concussions and the impact they can have on the health and well being of a person. As many of you know my favorite sport has been, and continues to be, football. Tackle football to be more precise. In all the sports I've played and coached nothing else compares to what tackle football can teach young kids in areas of teamwork, focus, discipline, hard work and sportsmanship. There are so many positive things team sports, in particular football, teach our children that I believe becoming involved in them at a young age is a critical building block in the growth of our young kids. All that said, the safety of our children is, and should continue to be, #1 on the list. Not winning youth championships, not collecting trophies, and not making highlight reels. With the proper mental approach to the game, from parents, coaches and kids, tackle football can be one of the most rewarding experiences our children enjoy. Like all things in life though tackle football is not without risk.

The topic of concussions, currently centered around the sport of tackle football, is front and center in every parents mind and for good reason. Tackle football is a contact sport. It's not the only contact sport (Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, and Rugby come to mind) but it's by far the largest and most popular one. There is a new story around concussions popping up every day on TV, the Internet and the radio. Because of this we know more about concussions and as parents and coaches are much more educated than we were just 5 years ago. Knowledge is power and we are more empowered today than our parents and coaches were and therefore can make better, informed decisions for our children. There is a flip side to this though. Information literally pours out of our devices and it's sometimes hard to seperate fact from opinion.

As a coach and also the parent of two football players (and two dancers) I've spent many hours learning about concussions. What causes them. What to look for when you suspect a player has one. The recovery time needed. The importance of proper coaching. What part proper gear plays. What activites generate the most risk. As with any activity the proper knowledge about prevention, recognition, and apporpriate management of concussions will allow players of all levels to continue to play safe and play smart.

I continue to educate myself everyday in the area of player safety and concussions are at the top of the list. Parents want to know their kids are being coached properly. They want the knowledge just as much as coaches do. With this in mind I wanted to share an article I came across this week on It does a very good job of summarizing a lot of what I've learned over the years in the area of concussions. Some of it you might already know. Some it you might not. Some of it might be surprising to you (did you know riding a bike is the leading cause of concussions in kids of all ages?). I'm not a doctor and no, I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so please make sure to refer to your doctor with any medical questions you might have around concussions. I'm sharing this article with you because everything written in it matches what I've learned over the years about this important topic. It is not meant to be all inclusive and is not meant to be taken as the gospel. It's just one more piece of information, well informed information, that exists to educate us on this important topic.

By the way - in our area, and for the most part nationwide, tackle football is the only youth sport that requires coaches to be certified in the areas of concussion prevention, recognition and management. Some might say this is because it's the only sport that carries the risk. Did you know that the #1 cause of concussions in young girls is soccer? Wrestling and Cheerleading, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, have the second and third highest concussion rates overall with Lacrosse trailing only Football in terms of concussion risk according to an article published in the USA Today. Concussions are a serious matter and while football is the sport generating the news stories it's far from the only sport our kids play where there is a risk of getting one. Football just happens to be the only sport at the moment where change is occuring at a rapid rate...for the safety of all the players regardless of level. I for one hope that the other sports follow in Football's foot steps.

The below information is taken from an originally posted on that was written by Jennifer Kelly Geddes. To view the original article in it's complete form please click HERE to be taken to the website. The Coaches Notes are my notes as they relate to the Myth listed above them.

I've chosen a few of the 'myths' from the article to share below. These directly relate to questions I've gotten over the years in relation to concussions. To view the entire list please follow the link mentioned above to view the entire article.

Myth #2: Helmets prevent concussions

Reality: Wearing a helment is always a good idea when biking or participating in sports, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), no specific brand of helmet (or mouth guard) results in fewer concussions, despite manufacturer claims. Because the brain '"floats" in fluid in the head, a helmet can't prevent it from crashing around inside the skull, which is what causes a concussion. Headgear is still important however. It's actually designed to protect against a catastrophic injury such as a skull fracture or bleeding in the brain

Coached Note: This was a major topic at a recent June USA Football Player Safety clinic I attended that was hosted by USA Football and the Seattle Seahawks. The best helmet for a player is the one that fits properly. It's not the one that has the latest technology or fancy padding. A properly fitted helmet does the best job of protecting a players head. This is regardless of make or model.

Myth #4: The harder the blow, the worse the concussion will be

Reality: The type of hit that your child sustains, whether it's hard or soft, doesn't always directly correlate to the severity of the concussion or the duration of the recovery. "I've see children who have fallen out of a two story window and within a few days have fully recovered, while others who have simply been hit with a dodge ball in gym class can take a year to get better, " Dr. Halstead says.

Coaches Note: This myth is one I've seen proven wrong numerous times throughout my coaching career. The worst concussion incident I've ever been a part of happened when a player was walking and tripped. The player fell to the ground and got a concussion when his shoulder and head hit the ground. There was no hard contact and no player to player contact. I can actually count on 1 hand the number of concussion incidents I've been a part of over the course of my football coaching career.

Myth #9: Only a blow to the head can cause a concussion

Reality: A knock to the head is usually the way a concussion occurs, but any severe jolt to the body can cause this injury. For example, bad whiplash in a car accident or being shaken violently can also rattle the brain in the skull, resutling in a concussion.

Coaches Note: It's important to understand that any activity where the head can be violenly whipped around, like an amusement park ride for example, can cause a concussion. As parents we tend to overlook these things because they don't make the news. I encourage everyone to look for the signs of a concussion whenever, and wherever they crop up. Just because your child doesn't get hit in the head doesn't mean he or she might not have gotten a concussion.

To read the full article and see the full list of 11 Myths listed by please click HERE to visit their site.

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