SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) -
Football related injuries to teenagers and young kids are a source of national concern. Dozens of Springfield area coaches learned how to keep their players safer on the field on Saturday.
It's the most popular sport in the country. But football is also a high contact sport with concussions being one of the most common injuries. That's why the western Massachusetts Suburban Amateur Football League hosted a safety clinic in South Hadley.
"It's for the protection of the kids. To teach them the right technique, the correct technique to tackle and hopefully prevent further injury," said the league's commissioner, Steven Scagliarini.
The NFL sponsored Heads Up USA Football program led the clinic. Coaches and athletic directors from more than 20 Massachusetts cities and town learned how to keep their players on their feet. And help dispel the stigma that football is a dangerous sport.
"The Heads Up training pilot was done with three leagues a year ago. This year, we've got over 2,700 leagues signed up to do Heads Up tackling," said Heads Up Master Trainer, Kevin Brown.
Brown says that aside from instructional clinics, more athletic associations are limiting the number of hours a young player can spend tackling on the field.
"They've passed legislature and laws that [for example] say ‘for this week, you only get 20 minutes of live practice.' Which means full on tackle, taking the ball player to ground," said Brown inside the Michael Smith Middle School's cafeteria.
One of the many coaches in attendance was Andre Robinson, who heads a pop warner football program in West Lynn. He told 22News a push for new equipment is helping raise awareness.
"When we first started there was no talk about concussion. Now, it's a lot of new equipment. Most of the helmets were padded, now we have a lot of air and gel helmets," said Robinson.
The Centers for Disease and Control says most concussions are deceptive as there's often no loss of consciousness. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of a concussion, click here.