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MHSFCA Endorse USA Football's Heads Up Football Program

July 25, 2013 07:52 AM

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has endorsed USA Football’s Heads Up FootballSM program to make the game better and safer for youth and high school players in the state. USA Football, based in Indianapolis, is the sport’s national governing body.

The MHSFCA, which is engaged with all 648 high school football programs in Michigan, joins the Indiana and Minnesota Football Coaches Associations as the first three such organizations to endorse Heads Up Football for all youth and high school football programs in their respective states. The National Federation of State Athletic Associations (NFHS) also has endorsed USA Football’s Heads Up Football program.

More than 2,700 youth football programs nationwide have adopted Heads Up Football into their programs this season.

“The MHSFCA is pleased to support USA Football’s Heads Up Football program,” MHSFCA Executive Director LARRY MERX said. “The health and safety of our student-athletes is our No. 1 priority. Heads Up Football advances that priority in a smart way through coach certification for a better, safer game. We are proud to stand with USA Football in Michigan.”

The MHSFCA endorses the following guidelines, all of which are met through USA Football’s Heads Up Football program:

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

Football is the most popular participatory sport among Michigan high school boys (42,743), followed by track and field (23,253) and basketball (21,966).

“This is an extraordinary show of leadership by the MHSFCA 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 HALLENBECKsaid. “We are changing for the better how the game is being played.”

In addition to the NFL and NFL Foundation, organizations that support Heads Up Football include the NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, American Football Coaches Association and the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique was developed with contributions of USA Football’s Tackle Advisory Committee, which includes Northwestern head coach PAT FITZGERALD, UCLA head coach JIM MORA, former NFL running back MERRIL HOGE, Miami Christopher Columbus High School head coach CHRISMERRITTand sports psychologist DR. DAVID YUKELSON.

USA Football’s five primary elements of Heads Up Football:

Heads Up TacklingSM

·USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.

Coaching certification

·All coaches complete USA Football’s Level 1 Coaching Certification course (youth football) or USA Football’s varsity-level coach training course (high school football).

Concussion recognition and response

·Coaches learn and are assessed on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols.

·Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season and have them reinforced throughout the year.

Player Safety Coach

·Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football high school or youth program. This individual is trained by USA Football to implement Heads Up Football’s player safety protocols, including coaching certification, and conducts safety clinics for fellow coaches, parents and players.

Equipment fitting

·Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.


About USA Football: USA Football leads the game’s development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams. USA Football ( also works alongside medical experts and football stakeholders on multiple levels to advance player safety. The organization was endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002. USA Football is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.


Steve Alic / Director, Communications

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