Mayewood Middle School

FOOTBALL SAFETY GUIDELINES

When a person is involved in any athletic activity, an injury can occur, especially in a contact sport. One should be aware that the information presented in these rules and procedures to inform the athlete of proper techniques of the inherent dangers involved with this particular activity. Not all potential injury possibilities in this sport are listed, but athletes should be aware that fundamentals, coaching, and proper fitting equipment are important to the safety of and enjoyment of the sport.

Tackling, Blocking and Running the Ball

By rule, the helmet is NOT to be used as a “ram”. Initial contact is not to be made with the helmet. It is not possible to play the game safely or correctly without making contact with the helmet when properly blocking and tackling an opponent. Therefore, technique is most important to prevention of injuries.

Tackling and blocking techniques are basically the same. Contact is to be made above the waist, BUT NOT INITIALLY WITH THE HELMET. The player should always be in a position of balance, knees bent, back straight, body slightly bent forward, HEAD UP AND THE TARGET AREA AS NEAR TO THE BODY AS POSSIBLE WITH THE MAIN CONTACT BEING MADE WITH THE SHOULDER.

Blocking and tackling by not putting the helmet as close to the body as possible could result in shoulder injury such as a separation or a pinched nerve in the neck area. The dangers of not following the proper techniques can be from minor to disabling or even death. The reason for following the safety rules in making contact with the upper body and helmet is that improper body alignment can put the spinal column in a vulnerable position for injury. If the head is bent downward, the cervical (neck) vertebra is in a bind and contact on the TOP OF THE HELMET could result in a dislocation, nerve damage, or paralysis. If the back is not straight, the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar vertebra are also vulnerable to injury with similar results if contact again is made to the TOP OF THE HELMET. Daily workouts include isometric-type exercises. The development of strength in the neck muscles is one of the best methods of preventing head injury and enabling an individual to hold his/her head up even after getting tired during a workout or contest.

Basic Hitting (Contact) Position and Fundamental Technique

If the knees are not bent, the chance of knee injury is greatly increased. Fundamentally, a player should be in the proper hitting position at all times during live ball play and this point will be repeated continually during practice. The danger is anything from strained muscles, to ankle injuries, to serious knee injuries requiring surgery. The rules have made blocking below the waist (outside a 2-yard by 4-yard area next to the football) illegal.

Cleats have been restricted to no more than one half inch to further help prevent knee injuries. A runner with the ball, however, may be tackled around the legs. In tackling, the rules prohibit initial contact with the helmet or grabbing the face mask or edge of the helmet. These restrictions were placed in the rules because of serious injuries resulting from non-compliance to these safety precautions. Initial helmet contact could result in a bruise; dislocation; broken bone; head injury; or internal injury such as kidneys, spleen, bladder, etc. Grabbing the face mask or helmet edge could result in a neck injury which could be anything from a muscle stain to a dislocation, nerve injury, or spinal column damage which could cause paralysis or death.

Equipment

Shoulder pads, helmets, hip pads, and pants (including thigh pads and knee pads) must have proper fitting and use.

Shoulder pads which are too small will leave the shoulder point vulnerable to bruises or separations: it could also be too tight in the neck area, resulting in a possible pinched nerve. Shoulder pads which are too large will leave the neck area poorly protected and will slide on the shoulders making them vulnerable to bruises or separations. Helmets must fit snugly at the contact points: front, back, and top of head. The helmet must be safety branded (NOCSAE), the chin strap must be fastened and the cheek pads must be of the proper thickness. On contact, too tight a helmet will result in a headache. Too loose a fit could result in a headache, a concussion, a face injury such as a broken nose or cheek bone, or a blow to the back of the neck, causing a neck injury, possible quite serious such as paralysis or even death.

ATHLETE: The above information has been explained to me, and I understand the list of rules and procedures. I also understand the necessity of using the proper techniques while participating in the football program.

Athlete’s Signature ____                    _____________________   Date____          ______

PARENT/GUARDIAN/CUSTODIAN:  I have read the above safety guidelines.

Parent/Guardian/Custodian Signature:                                           _____________________   Date__             ______