USA Football teamed up with the Los Angeles Chargers to host a football camp that teaches safe techniques during game play. This is one of the seven stops of USA Football’s Protection Tour, an event done in partnership with AIG and Riddell.
The Protection Tour informs young athletes and their parents about proper ways to block and tackle, concussion awareness and other fundamentals that keep athletes healthy and safe while playing football.
USA Football master trainer Jason French demonstrated ways to make contact by using shoulders and keeping the spine straight.
“We want to make sure that we’re limiting helmet-to-helmet contact is what we’re trying to do,” French said. “Using our shoulder to make the shoulder-strike tackle and just teaching it to make sure that our bodies are in line in a safe way.”
L.A. Chargers rookie cornerback Desmond King and teammate linebacker Nick Dzubnar, also participated in drills with the young athletes. The Protection Tour reminded King of his experience with football camps as a child.
“It always brings back memories when I come out and see young kids striving to be the best that they can be on a great sport like football,” King said. “I feel like a lot of teams should put emphasis on tackling … just because of the safety.”
Youth of various ages learned the methods and practiced throwing, catching and back-pedaling. Parents could also join in on the drills; USA Football also provided them an information session.
L.A. Valley Seahawks coach Elroy McFarlane brought his seven-year-old son to participate in the event.
“He’s been playing football since he was five years old, so he’s always been pretty good, so I just kept him in it,” McFarlane said. “[Player] safety is the main thing. Can’t play the sport if you don’t know how to be safe about it.”
Etiwanda high school student Anthony Smith, 14, mentioned how USA Football taught him the importance of dedication and teamwork.
“I played for three years, I had to take a break due to injuries,” Smith said. “You have to focus not only for yourself but for others because a lot of people get injured.”
French would teach the youth one technique at a time, dividing them into groups to practice new skills. Volunteers from USA Football assisted the participants to ensure skill was executed properly.
“[I] really want to see the kids succeed and really grow and do something that they love to do,” said Timothy Brown, who helped train the youth. “We don’t want to have anybody come out here and get hurt or do anything that’s not fundamentally sound.”
Other franchises, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Buffalo Bills will also host Protection Tour Events.