Heads Up Football® is USA Football’s National Initiative To Help Make the Sport of Football Better and Safer.

A comprehensive collection of resources; programs, applications and promotions to effect change and address the complex challenges of player health and safety in youth and high school football.


  • Coaching Certification
  • Concussion Recognition & Response
  • Proper Equipment Fitting
  • Heads Up Tackling
  • Heads Up Blocking
  • Heat Preparedness & Hydration
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest


The only nationally accredited courses with content created from football experts and health professionals.

Give your coaches the best in coaching education. After completing an age-based course, coaches will earn their certification, receive a certificate, appear on the USA Football National Coaching Registry, and become eligible for coaching insurance benefits.


“Only allow your child to play when you know that USA Football certification is there for the coach and you know that your child is being taught the proper fundamentals of the game and that real intelligence has gone into the preparation of practices.” Tom Coughlin, Head Coach, New York Giants



Education is the first step to help protect players from concussion.

Coaches and parents should know what to look for on the field and encourage attention to concussion symptoms. Topics include:

  • What is a concussion?
  • Signs and symptoms of a concussion
  • What to do when a concussion occurs

This overall approach and the specific techniques within the program are exactly the next steps we need to take to improve head safety in tackle football. The effort to teach effective, yet safe tackling and blocking techniques at the earliest youth levels can only have positive downstream benefits for our players at the high school, college and professional levels. Dr. Gerard A. Gioia, Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Division of Pediatric Neuropsychology Chief, Children's National Medical Center; Associate Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, George Washington University School of Medicine



It is essential that every player has a properly fitted helmet and shoulder pads. League administrators, coaches, and parents should be able to recognize equipment that fits properly and check the fit of equipment throughout the season. Improperly fitted equipment can place an athlete at greater risk for injury.


To me coaching certification is critically important and what USA Football is doing is really great, it’s brilliant. It’s what we should be doing. Let’s give them a place to go where they can learn the game and parents can have the confidence that my coach has been certified. John Harbaugh, Head Coach, Baltimore Ravens


Heads up Tackling

USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling is a step-by-step protocol to teach the core principles of the skill and sets a new standard in player safety. The program utilizes five fundamentals through a series of drills to reinforce proper tackling mechanics and teach players how to properly tackle with a focus on reducing helmet contacts.

Get more Information about High School Heads Up Football® »

  • Breakdown


  • Shoot


  • Hit


  • Rip


  • Buzz



One of football’s most basic skills, USA Football’s Heads Up Blocking helps coaches teach players to properly engage with a defender, drive with the legs and maintain the correct body position for effective and safer play.

  • Breakdown


  • Shoot

    Get Off

  • Hit


  • Rip


  • Buzz


heat and hydration


Heads Up Football® strengthens its commitment to player safety by adding a heat and hydration training curriculum – with assistance from the University of Connecticut’s Kory Stringer Institute.

Targeted education for coaches and parents increases the on-field and off-field monitoring of athletes. Best practices reinforce heat and hydration related safety practices at all levels.

  • Defining the injury and prevention strategies
  • On-field and off-field messaging to players
  • Action plan for dealing with symptomatic athletes


Instruction on how to have plans and procedures in place to quickly react in the case of cardiac events, the No. 1 cause of death for children and teens taking part in athletics.


Supported By

  • NFL
  • NCAA
  • CDC
  • NFHS
  • AFCA
  • SFIA
  • KSI
  • Pop Warner
  • UYFL
  • Big 10
  • Pac 12
  • Big 12
  • NATA
  • College of Sports
  • NFL Alumni
  • PTA
  • American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
  • PFAT

Get more Information

*All fields are required

or Call 1-877-5-FOOTBALL (1-877-536-6822)


Let your league organizer know you want your leagues to be Heads Up Football® certified.


  • John Fox

    I think you guys have covered every key step in tackling fundamentals. So much of the problem is the launching with the head down, and you guys are addressing that in this technique. Keeping the head up and using terminology that doesn’t encourage using the head is important.

    John Fox, Head Coach
    Chicago Bears

  • Urban Meyer

    My son plays youth football, and the No. 1 thing we taught him is safety. I think Heads Up Football is tremendous. It’s a critical part of our game. It’s something we take very serious as college coaches, and I obviously take very serious as a dad of a child playing football.

    Urban Meyer, Head Coach
    Ohio State (Big Ten)

  • Jerry Reese

    When I know that my son is coached by qualified coaches who’ve been certified to teach tackling and teach the fundamentals of football, that makes me rest easy.

    Jerry Reese, General Manager
    New York Giants

  • Andy Reid

    This is a technique sport, and the technique they’re teaching at USA Football is huge... I can tell you everything my youth coach taught me to this day, so it’s so important that our youth coaches teach the right things, teach the proper fundamentals.

    Andy Reid, Head Coach
    Kansas City Chiefs

  • David Shaw

    The biggest thing for me, the impact of USA Football on the youth level, is allowing parents to say, 'You know what? My children are being taught by someone who knows what they are doing.' The coach has been certified. He knows how to teach the game, so the kids can play the game the right way – a safer way.

    David Shaw, Head Coach
    Stanford (Pac-12)

  • Bill Snyder

    USA Football is a wonderful avenue to help young people understand so many things, particularly the fundamentals of the game as it relates to staying healthy. For youth coaches to be able to go through USA Football certification is really significant and important. It’s a great asset to them and, obviously, a great asset to the families of young people who play the game.

    Bill Snyder, Head Coach
    Kansas State (Big XII)



What it's all about

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Creating a better, safer game.

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