The Culver Military football team received special recognition at the Indianapolis Colts-New Orleans Saints preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23. The team was honored as the first Indiana high school squad to participate in USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling program. USA Football officially kicked off the third year of Heads Up Tackling at Saturday’s nationally televised game
Culver players received game tickets and stood on the field during the pregame ceremonies and the national anthem. Prior to the game, the team was treated to dinner at the home of James and Maryann Snyder, of Carmel, parents of Ben Snyder ’17.
CMA coaches introduced the Heads Up Tackling program to players during the 2013 preseason camp. CMA was the only high school team in Indiana and just 25 in nine states chosen by USA Football to participate in the pilot program. Heads Up Tackling is designed to help reduce the number of concussions and neck injuries among players.
The technique teaches the importance of using a player’s shoulders as the contact point. Andy Ryland, of USA Football, came to Culver last summer and ran players and coaches through a series of drills on the new form of tackling.
The keys are the shoulder strike and proper body mechanics. Staying low with a solid base will allow tacklers to hit and lift the ball carrier. The power comes from the tackler’s legs and hips, giving the defender his needed momentum to stop the runner.
Originally introduced at the youth football level, Heads Up Tackling was adjusted for the high school level of coaching and players in 2013. Along with tackling drills, coaches are given instruction for equipment fitting – especially the helmet – and concussion awareness.
Heads Up Tackling has been endorsed by the Indiana Football Coaches Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations. USA Football is affiliated with the National Football League and the NFL players union, and serves as the NFL’s teaching arm for coaches and players.