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Coaching to Make the Game Saferby: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
© March 2012
AFM has long advocated that safer football is better football. We have addressed player safety issues in the past and will continue to focus on ways that the coaching community can help ensure the health and well-being of players, in particular with regard to head injuries.
Here are just a few ways that coaches can be proactive and promote safer football.
Medical experts have pointed out that less-severe blows to the head on a repeated basis can be just as harmful to athletes as concussions from major trauma. One way to reduce the frequency of hits to the head is to reduce contact in practice. Some coaches even believe it’s never necessary to “bang heads” in practice. While we don’t expect every coach to adopt that philosophy, cutting back on full contact in practice is a good idea.
We encourage all coaches to follow the NFHS rules on concussion management:
While it might be impossible to entirely eliminate helmet-to-helmet incidents, players need to be taught that leading with the head in unacceptable. Whether it’s a running back plowing into the line or a safety going airborne, it’s just too dangerous. Coach helmet-on-helmet hits out of the game.
AFM believes that coaches need to learn the “best practices” for avoiding head injuries and take every available step to minimize them in both practice and game situations. That’s why we are embarking on a new initiative to help coaches better understand player safety issues and methods that can be used to increase player safety. “Play Safe” will feature articles in every issue of AFM and a variety of online resources that will help coaches be up-to-date on the latest safety issues and the most important ways to keep your players healthy.
With a dedicated effort by the coaching community, football can evolve, become a safer sport and continue to be the most popular sport in America.
It’s appropriate to focus on strength and conditioning this time of year, since the off-season is the critical time for athletes and coaches to achieve success in the weight room. Along those lines, we’ve included two additional strength articles that will help with your offseason training regimens. Don’t forget, you can access dozens of strength and conditioning articles written by some of the best coaches and trainers in the world at www.AmericanFootballMonthly.com in our archives of over 140 back issues.
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