Football Safety Guidelines

1. Make certain that you wear all equipment that is issued by the coach. Advise the coach of any poorly-fitted or defective equipment.
2. Advise the coach if you are ill or have any prolonged symptoms of illness.
3. Advise the coach if you have been injured.
4. Engage in warm-up activities prior to strenuous participation.
5. Be alert for any physical hazards in the locker room or in or around the field.
Advise coach of any hazard.

Tackling, blocking and running the ball

Tackling and blocking techniques are basically the same. Contact is to be made above the belt, 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. When properly blocking or tackling an opponent, contact with your helmet will naturally result. Therefore, technique is most important in order to prevent or reduce the likelihood of injury.

Blocking and tackling by not keeping the helmet as close to the body as possible may result in a shoulder injury and a separation or a pinched nerve in the neck area. Injuries as a result of improper body alignment can put the spinal column in a vulnerable position for injury. The development of strength in the neck muscles through isometric-type exercises will enable the participant to hold his/her head up even after getting tired during a workout or contest.

Basic hitting (Contact position) and fundamental technique

Strained muscle injuries can range from ankle injuries to serious knee injuries requiring surgery. The rules have made blocking below the waist (outside a two-yard by four-yard area next to the football) illegal. Cleats are 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 on the edge of the helmet. Initial helmet contact may 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 may result in a neck injury which could result in injuries ranging from muscle strain to a dislocation, nerve injury, or spinal column damage which could cause paralysis or death.

Equipment

An athlete is required to wear all issued equipment. If equipment is damaged or does not fit correctly, the athlete must inform his coach immediately before use. Shoulder pads, helmets, hip pads, and pants (including thigh pads and knee pads) must have proper fitting and use. A shoulder pad which is too small will leave the shoulder point vulnerable to bruises or separations.

A shoulder pad that is too tight in the neck area may result in a possible pinched nerve. A shoulder pad which is 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 "NOCSAE" branded, the chin straps must be fastened, and the cheek pads must be of the proper thickness. A fit which is too loose could result in headaches, a concussion, a face injury such as a broken nose or cheekbone, or a neck injury that is very serious such a paralysis or even death.