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OSAA to Require USA Football's Heads Up Program for Coaches

By NFHS on August 24, 2015 state news Print

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) has become the first state high school activities association in the United States to require coach enrollment into USA Football’s Heads Up Football® program for the benefit of its student-athletes, effective in 2016.

The OSAA recommends its 249 football-playing high schools enroll in High School Heads Up Football in 2015. Oregon high schools will be required to do so in 2016.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, trains more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization in the country.

Nearly 1,000 high schools spanning 44 states signed up for USA Football’s Heads Up Football program in 2014.

High School Heads Up Football has earned the endorsement of leaders in medicine, child advocacy and sport. In addition to the USA Football program, Oregon high schools will continue to follow existing OSAA protocols to advance studentathlete health.

Created and administered by independent non-profit USA Football, High School Heads Up Football establishes important standards rooted in the best available science for safer play.

Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to teach and play the No. 1 participatory sport of U.S. high school boys. Supported by the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the program teaches tackling and blocking techniques designed to reduce helmet contact while addressing all-sport-relevant topics with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response; sudden cardiac arrest protocols; hydration and heat preparedness; and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

Recommended for 2015 and required in 2016, Oregon high schools will designate one Player Safety Coach (PSC) from their football coaching staffs. Each PSC will be trained by USA Football to guide, direct and monitor the program’s implementation as well as lead in-person training for fellow coaches, parents and players. PSCs have access to USA Football clinics statewide this summer to learn Heads Up Football protocols and techniques.

Coaches also will complete an online Heads Up Football High School training course developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and USA Football. The course is made available to all U.S. high school football coaches at www.NFHSLearn.com.

According to the NFHS, more than 1.12 million boys played high school football in 2013-14, outnumbering the combined participation figure for the second- and third-most popular boys sports combined.

“In our ongoing effort to minimize risks in the sport, we are pleased to partner with USA Football and implement Heads Up Football,” said OSAA Executive Director Tom Welter. “This program will ensure that all coaches, players and parents will receive consistent technique training and make the game as safe as possible.”

Dr. Michael Koester, chairperson of the OSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, says the Heads Up Football requirement in Oregon is logical considering in 2008 OSAA became the first state high school activities association to prohibit same day return to play for athletes with a suspected concussion.

“The committee sees this as a natural next step as we continue to look at innovative ways to minimize the risk of all football injuries, but particularly concussions,” Dr. Koester said. "This is an opportunity for high school coaches to set a standard for the youth leagues in their communities across the state. Ideally, we’ll have youth coaches getting certified as well, allowing for continuity of tackling techniques and safety protocols through an athlete's entire playing experience.

"As a team physician and the parent of a high school football player, I'm excited about Heads Up Football.”