NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Youth football league coaches from Middle Tennessee and beyond received helpful information on concussion prevention and treatment Saturday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
The Tennessee Titans served as a host site for USA Football’s Heads Up Football Player Safety Coach Clinic. The daylong workshop included sessions on properly fitting helmets and shoulder pads, a discussion on concussion awareness and demonstrations on Heads Up tackling training and drills. Methods that are designed to reduce the likelihood of concussions were taught by USA Football Master Trainer Chuck Kyle.
Kyle is preparing for his 31st season as a head coach and 42nd overall on the coaching staff at Cleveland’s St. Ignatius High School. It’s the same high school he played for, as well as Titans quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, defensive assistant Jonathan Gannon and former offensive lineman Jacob Bell.
Kyle views the Heads Up Football initiative between USA Football and the NFL as a way to pass the game to future generations and a way that the sport can take information it learns and pass it along to other sports that also experience concussions.
“The concussion issue is here and it’s very strong, and certainly the spotlight, whether right or wrong, is on football right now,” Kyle said. “Other sports have concussions, plenty of them, but the spotlight is on football.
“If football solves it, every other sport is going to benefit,” Kyle added. “Every other sport is going, ‘Please, football. You have the resources — the NFL has the resources to research and get programs like Heads Up Football to teach people,’ and USA Volleyball and USA Basketball are going, ‘Please, football, and then we’ll copy what you do,’ so what we’re doing is not just for football. It’s for everything, and we’ve got to get moving on that and then help parents understand.”
More than 30 representatives from youth leagues attended the clinic and will be able to take what they learned and teach other coaches and parents of the players so that proper tackling techniques become habitual at early ages.
“You start with the young kids and work your way up because right now, if you start messing with a professional athlete and the way he tackles, he’s going to say, ‘Excuse me, I’ve got a family to feed. I’m going to do what got me here,’ and really that’s going to be the reaction,” Kyle said. “You hope they listen to it and have the confidence that, ‘I’m still a great athlete. I’m going to show people how to do this,’ but we’re starting with youth and building it up.”
Kyle said another method of trying to teach proper tackling techniques is their inclusion in the “Skills Trainer” component of the “Madden NFL 25” video game.
With concussions unlikely to be completely preventable, Kyle said it’s also important for all levels of football and other sports to have protocol in place and for everyone to follow the policies that are established. He said the scientific information on concussions has increased significantly in the past 10 years and he wants that to continue.
“I’ve spent my life playing and coaching this game and I’d hate to see it fade. I’d hate to see it tarnished, so that’s kind of the motivation for me,” Kyle said. “By the time I leave the game, I want to feel like we’ve left it in a healthy state.”