VISAA endorses ‘Heads Up’ football program

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association has endorsed USA Football’s Heads Up Football High School program for the betterment of its member schools’ football-playing student-athletes. A total of 24 state high school athletic associations and coaches associations spanning 20 states, including the Virginia High School League, support the USA Football program.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, trains more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization across the country.

In preparation for the upcoming 2016 football season, the VISAA recommends each of its 42 football-playing schools, which includes defending Division IV state champion Isle of Wight Academy, complete USA Football’s nationally endorsed Heads Up Football High School training and coursework.

Created and administered by independent non-profit USA Football, Heads Up Football High School establishes important standards rooted in the best available science and is supported by the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.

More than 1,100 high schools nationwide registered for the program in 2015.

“The VISAA is fully committed to the safety, health and development of our student-athletes,” said Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Executive Director Dick Kemper. “USA Football’s program empowers our coaches to best teach the sport’s fundamentals, established medically endorsed protocols and keeps the sport fun to play. Football’s benefits give our student-athletes extraordinary advantages. Their best interests are our No. 1 priority.”

Heads Up Football High School is a comprehensive approach to teach and play the No. 1 participatory sport of high school boys. The program teaches tackling and blocking techniques designed to reduce helmet contact and improve skill development and all-sport-relevant topics including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concussion recognition and response; sudden cardiac arrest protocols; hydration and heat preparedness; and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

Coaches enrolled in the USA Football program complete hands-on, in-person training as well as the Heads Up Football High School certification course developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations and USA Football.

“Coaches are teachers — they’re educators,” said USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck. “The VISAA supports its coaches with education, which is a powerful catalyst to further modify and change for the better how student-athletes are taught and have fun while gaining the sport’s values and fitness benefits.”