Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coaches OK on Safety-First Football Drills

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coaches OK on Safety-First Football Drills

Article excerpt

Nick Marmo had a message about football Wednesday at Cupples Stadium.

"We're not saying we're going to make the game softer or weaker," Marmo, a representative of USA Football, told a semicircle of high school and youth coaches. "It's still a violent game."

Marmo is one of more than 200 people who travel to various cities as part of the organization's "Heads Up Football" initiative, a series of clinics aimed at teaching coaches how to better promote safety on the gridiron at all levels.

USA Football and Marmo had their Pittsburgh clinic Wednesday morning, playing host on the South Side to 12 coaches from high school and youth teams.

A former Penn State offensive lineman and New Castle native, Marmo said promoting smart tackling and good response can at times be difficult, partially because coaches are afraid of stripping the game of its physicality.

"Sometimes, people are stuck in their ways and they don't want to do things different because they've seen it working," Marmo said. "But they don't see the aftereffects."

After Marmo went over proper technique for fitting players' equipment, the coaches hit the field.

They began going over suggested drills from Marmo and USA Football, such as a five-step tackling system that emphasizes keeping the head up when wrapping up an opponent for a tackle, going from "breakdown" (starting position) to "buzz" (maintaining balance) to "hit" (readying body posture) to "shoot" (generating power) to "rip" (finishing the heads-up tackle).

After that session, the coaches and Marmo headed to the Pittsburgh Online Learning Academy, finishing up the clinic with a slideshow presentation on handling concussions and other emergency scenarios.

"There's a lot of stuff," Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett said. "We've got a lot of guys coaching here a long time and a lot of this stuff we already teach. …

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