By David Fong
TROY — Football players in Troy — from the largest to the smallest — will be safer this year when they take the field.
And safer next year, too.
And, if all goes according to plan, for many years after that.
Last Wednesday, USA Football brought its “Heads Up Football” training program to Troy Memorial Stadium, where coaches and players at every level of Troy football — from Troy Junior Football to Troy Junior High School to Troy High School — went through the program’s safety training program.
The goal, Troy High School football coach Matt Burgbacher said, was to provide the same training across to ensure coaches and players at every level of football throughout Troy could implement the same precautions and techniques.
“We want everyone to be on the same page, from our fourth, fifth and sixth graders all the way up through high school,” he said. “Look at it this way: What if you get to high school and take Spanish one year, then take French the next year and then take German the next year? You aren’t going to get any better because you are doing something different every year.
“It was important for us to make sure everyone is learning the same things — and not just at the varsity level. We want to be sure we are teaching everything the same way across the board.”
Roughly 250 football players of all ages and about two dozen coaches attended the seminar, which was put on by the national organization at no cost to the Troy athletic program. The players and coaches both went through two-hour training seminars. The coaches now can become certified to teach “Heads Up Football” methods, which they can then teach to future players.
The training focused on: proper equipment fitting, concussion recognition and response, sudden cardiac arrest, heat preparedness and hydration, practice guidelines and “heads up” blocking and tackling.
The heads up block and tackling training was the biggest part of the training, as it taught players how to perform those two skills with zero or minimal impact on the head and spine, something that has been a hot topic at all levels of football in recent years.
“I don’t want to say football is under attack, but this training is more important than ever because of the awareness of concussions and spinal injuries in our sport,” Burgbacher said. “Obviously these types of injuries can happen in any sport, but hopefully football will be a catalyst to other sports to be more proactive instead of being reactive.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong