Football coaches trained to make sport safer

(WISH Photo/Drew Blair)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Making the sport of football safer from peewees to pros – that’s the goal of an Indianapolis based group that has received national attention.

Former NFL player and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Haynes manages USA Football’s “Heads Up Football” program. The organization formed in 2013 to train youth league coaches concussion recognition and response, how to handle heat and hydration, equipment fitting and proper tackling mechanics that focus on reducing helmet contact.

“We can take somebody that’s never coached before and we can make them a coach,” Haynes said. “They can have a successful practice, from an injury standpoint. We don’t say that if you follow our program, you’re going to win games. We’re saying your practice is going to be better and safer and your kids are going to enjoy themselves.”

On Saturday and Sunday, 23 high school coaches and former NFL players studied in Indianapolis to become “master trainers.” The goal, Haynes said, was for those trainees to fan out across the country with tools and tactics to help others teach the youngest of players.

USA Football is a non-profit that partners with the NFL to develop youth football.

Included in the weekend of instruction was Westfield High School’s head football coach Jacob Gilbert, the others participating traveled from 15 different states.

The group spent time in the classroom and doing drills at St. Vincent’s Sports Performance on the northwest side. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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