Allen Park, MICH. -- While the Lions are away, the kids--and Barry Sanders--will play. This past Sunday, when the team was in Pittsburgh, Lions Youth Football and former Detroit Lions running back and Heads Up Football Ambassador Barry Sanders hosted a Heads Up Football clinic for the Farmington Rockets youth football program.
The principle instructor was Detroit Lions Director of Youth Football, Chris Fritzsching, whom is one of a small group of master trainers across the country that are qualified to teach the player-safety fundamentals of Heads Up Football.
The Heads Up Football program is a USA Football initiative, which focuses on creating a better, safer game. Heads Up Football is helping raise a grassroots-level awareness and education of safer tackling techniques. The program is built upon three pillars: proper equipment fitting, concussion recognition and response and safer, “heads up” tackling practices.
Sunday morning, 300 6- to 14-year-old youth football players, coaches and parents arrived to the practice facility and geared up to learn the three pillars of Heads Up Football. Following the seminar portion of the clinic, Sanders spoke to the players, coaches and parents about the evolution, rule changes and the importance of adapting to a safer way to play football.
“The game means a lot to me, and Heads Up, I think, is very thoughtful in the way they approach the game. It’s targeting the right things so kids can really grow up with the right habits,” said Sanders.
Aside from teaching youth proper tackling techniques, concussion recognition and response and how to properly fit equipment, Sanders understands the importance of educating coaches and parents about the same fundamentals.
“You have to have that support at the ground level. And we know that every parent that’s out there, allowing their kid to participate, cares deeply and that that kid is a No. 1 priority in their life. So we just want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to assist and aid in that.”
Part of educating adults is getting them involved, so parents and coaches were allowed to assist with drills to get a close look and better understanding, as their children learned and demonstrated their knowledge of the Heads Up tackling techniques.
The Detroit Lions have been at the forefront of the NFL and USA Football Heads Up Football initiative. This past offseason the team became one of the first in the League to fully incorporate Heads Up Football techniques and concussion awareness into their youth football program throughout Michigan and part of Ohio.
For information about Heads Up Football and Detroit Lions Youth Football, visit DetroitLions.com/youth-programs.