I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Friday, June 7, 2013

Heads Up with SD Junior Football

Youth leagues have the choice whether or not to get involved with Heads Up Football (HUF) and make the transition to teaching specific fundamentals and certifying their coaches. This year, around 900 youth leagues in the US made the decision to become HUF leagues including SD Junior Football and a youth league in Watertown. Given the practical concerns of certifying all the coaches, and the number of kids involved with SD Junior Football, the transition presented some challenges for SD Junior Football. Coach Riggs asked Ken Sproles, President of the SD Junior Football Board to share his thoughts on why the league decided to make the change and what it will mean for parents and athletes.

What factors went into SDJRFB's decision to become a HUF league?
I think the decision started with the question… What’s best for the kids? It was pretty much a no brainer. We felt that if we can help protect the players and make the game safer, then why wouldn’t we join the HUF program? The HUF program also provides league-wide coaching education and teaching resources that help to ensure a positive youth football experience for everyone involved.

What does this change mean for SD Junior Football? 
The change means that we will be investing more in our coaches than ever before. This year, Head Coaches and 1st Assistant Coaches will be required to become Level 1 certified coaches through USA Football and attend Heads Up Training Seminars. We want our coaches to be the best they can be so that players can have the best experience possible.
Coach Riggs teaching HUF

Explain a bit about who is involved in the community in the transition to a HUF league.
As the Coaching committee chair on the Board of Directors, Eric Garrow has been appointed to the task of implementing the HUF program in SDJRFB. Eric is selecting Player Safety Coaches (PSC) that will help mentor our coaches in the HUF tackling techniques. These PSCs will oversee the coaches that are assigned to them by both fielding their questions and encouraging them in their practices.

How are you getting the word out about HUF?
If we have learned anything about Coach Riggs, it’s that he is a marketing machine. Every time we turn around, he is promoting SDJRFB and the HUF Program. Coach Riggs has been a big part of the transition and in getting the word out. We can’t say enough about how much he is helping our League with this transition. Plus, by including the HUF tackling technique into his Summer Camp, he will be training kids before we even start the season. Those players that attend the camp will be walking into their first practice with the knowledge of how to tackle properly. That’s priceless.

Coach Siegfried working tackling drills

What can parents do to support the HUF initiative for SDJRFB?
First and foremost, we can use their encouragement. This is a big undertaking for our volunteer board to manage and for our coaches to implement. This program means that we will be training 260 coaches a new tackling technique. That alone will need encouragement. Secondly, we would like for parents to get involved. During Kickoff Weekend, we will be holding seminars for parents to learn about HUF and the proper way to tackle.

We are hoping for a great turnout at the SD Junior Football Camp, Tackling Clinic, and Non-contact camp so that athletes can get ahead of the game with HUF tackling technique. Stay tuned for Coach Riggs' discussion with a representative from USA Football, the organization behind HUF.

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