It’s the one topic in football that has perhaps sparked the most heated discussions amongst parents and fans: concussions. The upswing of concussions suffered by NFL players in recent years brought the topic to the front and center of the country’s mindset.
And that’s exactly why Louisa local and youth football coach Terrell Thompson is making sure he is doing all he can to prevent them.
Thompson, who will coach the 8U Jr. Lion football team in the newly formed Louisa Athletic Association, recently completed a “Heads Up” safety course to educate himself on how to prevent concussions. Founded and managed by the USA Football organization, the “Heads Up” program is a five-step protocol that teaches players how to make the big hit and stay safe at the same time.
“When we decided to do a youth football program, it was going to be Heads Up [certified],” Thompson said. “That’s the way to go now. It’s the safer way to tackle, a safer way to play the game.”
Back just a few years ago, coaches taught a time-tested technique of tackling that involved a player wrapping his arms around a player’s waist. It’s an effective way to tackle, but the process also indirectly encourages players to lower their head, which in turn makes them more susceptible to spinal injuries and concussions.
“When you wrap up someone, it’s human nature to put your head down,” Thompson explained.
The Heads Up program offers a similar but safer way for players to tackle. Utilizing a five-step process, players are encouraged to “rip,” a technique where the tackler wraps his arms under an opposing player’s armpits and lifts in an upward motion. As the name of the program implies, tacklers are instructed to keep their eyes on the opposing player’s chest at all times, a choice that saves footballers from dangerous helmet-to-helmet collisions.
To read the entire story, see the July 24 edition of The Central Virginian.