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AFM Magazine

Coaching to Make the Game Safer

by: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
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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: 

Any athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion, or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the contest and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.

This applies to practice as well, without exception.

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.
Focus on Strength
Every year in this issue, we present the Samson Equipment Strength & Conditioning Coaches of the Year – recognizing the achievements of strength coaches at all levels of the game, from high school to the NFL. These coaches have shared their philosophies and tips to help coaches everywhere become better strength trainers.

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 in our archives of over 140 back issues.
AFM Goes Digital
Digital editions of AFM are now online! Subscribers can now access “flip-page” versions of each issue anywhere, anytime. You can view every page and click on live links to get more information from advertisers or check out other AFM articles that are geared to your particular interests. To check out AFM’s digital edition, log in at and click on “Digital Editions” under the MAGAZINE tab. We hope you enjoy this new service!

            John Gallup
            Editor & Publisher


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