Concussion concerns causing a tackling transformation at high school levels

Airdrie Bantam football coach Steve Kemp says football has changed immensely since he played 10 years ago and has seen a dramatic transformation in the way the game is being coached.

Concussions in football have been a rising concern for years and new coaching techniques have been introduced in order for the coaches to teach players new ways to tackle while avoiding injury.

“Back when I started you were taught to put your face mask into the others guy’s face mask, you were taught to lead with your head and use your helmet as a weapon,” Kemp says.

“Now we teach to keep your head out of it, keep your eyes up, see what you’re hitting.”

Produced by Cheryl Russell

Teams all over Alberta are being taught to use their hands, arms and shoulders. They are taught to keep both their head and their opponent’s head out of the tackle.

“It’s a lot more of a rugby style tackle instead of a traditional football tackle,” Kemp says.

Another method being used to keep concussions low is baseline concussion testing, which is mandatory for all football players in Airdrie. Baseline testing measures the level of a players pre-injury performance and reaction time, and enables coaches and doctors to compare that to the concussion test a player would receive after being concussed. This allows them to determine how long it would be before a player fully recovers and can play once again.Airdrie Raiders head coach Steve Kemp says tackling has changed in football from his playing days in an effort to prevent concussions, especially at the high school level.

Photo by Cheryl Russell

Ron Logan, president of the Calgary Bantam Football Association, says they even bring in therapists to help out with the testing.

“We hire therapists that work well with the concussion management team and if there is concussions they report back to the concussion testing people. They go through different drills to see if the kid can come back to play and they also need to be cleared by a physician,” Logan says.

Safety is a big concern for both the association and coaches alike. All are working together to ensure all football players, from Pee-Wee to professional, have their bases covered and are able to play their favorite game safely.

crussell@cjournal.ca