Heads Up Football

Make football safety the priority for your teams with USA Football’s comprehensive safety program.

New for 2017!

Shoulder Tackling with Rocky Seto

USA Football has worked with leaders in both medicine and sport across the country to create a full-featured program that any league or school can use to address key safety issues — empowering coaches to implement each component of the program.


From three pilot programs in 2012, Heads Up Football is now used by more than 7,000 youth and high school programs, setting the highest standards in the sport and giving the football community one voice when it comes to safety.

Heads Up Football includes programs specially tailored for youth football organizations and scholastic football programs — so you can make sure your coaches have the right tools for the level of players they coach.

For Middle and High Schools

Athletic directors are responsible for the safety of their student-athletes. Heads Up Football is a valuable tool, reinforcing and building on your efforts to enhance the safety of players, inspire the involvement of coaches and gain the support of parents and the school community.

For Youth Organizations

Commissioners know that safety comes first — both for the players on the field and their parents on the sidelines. Having a Heads Up Football program in place, with teams led by USA Football certified coaches, goes a long way toward showing that youth football is being taught the right way and that parents feel confident about your league.



Heads Up Football ensures that every coach is thoroughly trained in fundamental aspects of football safety, injury prevention and injury recognition.

That’s why one of the key features of the program is Coach Certification — using the only nationally accredited courses in the sport with content created by football experts and health professionals. It is available for middle school and high school coaches through NFHSLearn.com and for youth coaches at usafootball.com/development-training/certification. As an added benefit, coaches with valid USA Football certification are eligible for coaching insurance benefits.


Applying the lessons of Heads Up Football consistently across teams and leagues is essential. That’s where the Player Safety Coach (PSC) plays such a crucial role.

Nominated by the athletic director or commissioner, the PSC is trained in-person by a USA Football Master Trainer to make sure that every team is implementing Heads Up Football health and safety protocols, that every coach is properly certified and that every member of his or her football community has the guidance it takes to maintain Heads Up Football standards throughout the season.


Concussion Recognition and Response

Education is the first step in concussion awareness and player protection.

Heat Preparedness and Hydration

Targeted instruction puts the emphasis on prevention, recognition, and basic treatment of athletes with best practices for head and hydration safety at all levels.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Coaches, schools, and leagues learn how to put procedures in place to quickly react in the case of cardiac events - the No. 1 cause of death for children and teens during exercise.

Proper Equipment Fitting

Equipment that doesn’t fit or isn’t worn right can increase the risk of injury. That’s why every coach gets guidance in how to properly fit helmets and shoulder pads.

Shoulder Tackling

A step-by-step guide, featuring Seattle Seahawks Assistant Head Coach Rocky Seto, teaches the core principles of proper tackling and helps set a new standard in player safety.


Six time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday shows coaches how to teach young athletes proper engagement with a defender to promote effective and safer play.


Football player safety is enhanced by football coach certification. This cornerstone element of Heads Up Football — along with Player Safety Coaches and additional educational offerings — puts an official stamp of approval on the effort that youth and scholastic football coaches put into learning about and promoting a safer game.

Level 1 Tackle Certification provides uniformity across teams in youth football leagues, enabling new or veteran coaches to quickly get up to speed and apply their knowledge. High School Certification, created by the NFHS and USA Football, does the same for scholastic programs through certification at NFHSLearn.com.

Leading college and NFL coaches are big supporters of Heads Up Football, because they know it can make a big difference for the safety of all athletes, including those they will see in a few years.


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)

Tom Welter

The OSAA is excited to partner with USA Football in implementing the Heads Up Football program. Our primary goal is always to try to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. This educational program will provide all of our coaches with the knowledge, the training, the skills and the techniques to teach the game of football with safety as the top priority.

Tom Welter - Executive Director, Oregon School Activities Association

Bob Gardner

USA Football is an important member of the high school football family. We encourage our member state associations to employ Heads Up Football’s comprehensive hands-on and online curriculum and are encouraged by how the program continues to be embraced and adopted.

Bob Gardner - Executive Director, National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

Don Hinton

Our state association and member schools continue to emphasize the importance of coaching and teaching proper techniques and skills that are necessary to maximize safe play and minimize all risks involved by students participating in contact sports. Heads Up Football provides continuing education to our coaches that increases the awareness of important standards for participation in order to properly play the game.

Don Hinton - Executive Director, Mississippi High School Athletic Association (MHSAA)


Heads Up Football is supported by leading educational, medical and football organizations.