The Herald Bulletin

June 17, 2013

IFCA endorses Heads Up Football

By George Bremer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — (Editor’s note: The author’s wife is the social media coordinator for USA Football.)

ANDERSON — John Broughton has been passing out information on Heads Up Football to the parents of Pendleton Heights players for the past two years.

So when the Indiana Football Coaches Association and its counterpart in Minnesota on Monday became the first state associations to endorse USA Football’s groundbreaking program, it caused barely a ripple for the longtime Arabians mentor.

“We’ve been preaching that for years,” Broughton said of the system that emphasizes fundamentals and removing the head from the tackling process. “I’ve always believed that’s the proper way to tackle.”

More than 2,000 youth football programs across the nation have adopted Heads Up Football for this season, and the program has been endorsed by the NFL, the NCAA, the American Football Coaches Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations, among others.

By endorsing the program, the IFCA also endorses the following guidelines:

u Every head and assistant coach should be certified through a nationally accredited football coaching education program before stepping onto a youth or high school field.

u Every football commissioner, coach, game official, parent and player should recognize concussion signs and symptoms and know how to respond through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognition and response protocols.

u Every player should be taught tackling fundamentals that emphasize keeping the head up and out of the tackle.

u Every football coach, parent and player should know how to properly fit a helmet and shoulder pads.

“The IFCA is pleased to join with USA Football in support of its Heads Up Football program,” IFCA executive director Dave Land said in a press release. “It is extremely important to promote the proper instruction of tackling at all levels to ensure the well being of our players, which is our No. 1 priority. Heads Up Football reflects the innovation that is woven into our sport’s heritage by changing for the better how our game is played and taught.”

According to statistics from the NFSHAA, football was the most popular high school sport in the nation for the 2011-12 school year with 1,121,744 participants. The endorsements by the Indiana and Minnesota coaching associations include 703 combined high school programs.

“This is an extraordinary show of leadership by the IFCA and the MFCA that will further advance the safety of youth and high-school aged athletes who enjoy the fun, fitness and rewards of football,” USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck said in a release.

“We are changing for the better how the game is being played.”

Broughton has been coaching football at Pendleton Heights for 38 years, and he believes the IFCA’s endorsement is another step forward for the sport.

“Anything the IFCA can do to make the game safer for us in Indiana,” Broughton said. “I think is a good move.”