July 22, 2019 • Football

Improving Player Safety and Reducing Concussions — Beyond the Gear

{Sponsored} Football is a sport mired in debates about safety — especially given the ever-changing concussion prevention recommendations. New gear promises to reduce the risk of concussion or other head trauma, but it is apparent that coaches need to look past the gear and instead focus on preventing contact to the head when possible.

This means that new light is shining on a rugby-style tackle utilizing the shoulder and lower body instead of a head-first approach that is tradition in football.
The state of Texas, the unofficial leader in high school football, and its high school football regulating body, recently mandated that all high school football coaches must be certified in the rugby-style tackle that Atavus teaches.
A Washington state-based company, Atavus developed a reliably safer tackle that even schools outside of Texas have noticed.

Atavus shoulder-led tackle

One such school is Lakeside School of Seattle, WA. Mike Lengel, the football program head, saw a trend of attrition amongst his players, partially due to pressure from parents who said the sport wasn’t safe — a thought process driven by the community’s need to be well-read on the topic.

Lengel and the Lakeside community began to see a steep decline in participation, and he knew he had to take action to save the program. “While our team wasn’t riddled with injury, we knew we needed to be proactive in our approach towards player safety to gain and retain the trust and support of our community,” said Lengel

Lengel’s program happened to have a connection to a newer company, Atavus, that taught rugby safety, and he brought in their trainers to work on rugby tackle drills with the team. Along with training the team, Atavus worked hand-in-hand with the coaches to ensure they were able to correctly reinforce the safer, head-out tackle technique with current and future players.

Lakeside and Lengel saw immediate improvement in player safety, and as a bonus, they also saw an increase in tackle efficiency and tackler confidence.
Lengel still sees an occasional traditional head-in tackle, but now his coaching staff has the training to teach this rugby-style tackle to newer players. “We’re working to make the Atavus tackling technique less of a ‘tool in the toolbox’ and more the way we tackle, period,” said Lengel.

While football continues to evolve and become safer, Lengel knows that this style of tackling will go a long way toward continued safety of his players. It’s a step one of an evolution of the sport to become safety-driven instead potentially brutal.

To continue to excel at teaching this tackle, and to keep the sport as safe as possible, the whole Lakeside football staff does a training clinic with Atavus every single year. The coaches hit the field and learn the drills so they can give hands-on training to their players — because what good is a coach who can’t walk the walk?

“We’re also lucky to have built a strong relationship with our point person at Atavus, so we all feel comfortable asking questions, reaching out for more information, and having him on campus to implement, supervise and give feedback on our teaching,” said Lengel. As one of the early adopters, they’ve seen the benefits of this style of tackle and trust that the relationship with Atavus will continue to bear fruit and positively impact their program for years to come.
For more information on the Atavus shoulder-led tackle, visit www.atavus.com/football.

© 2019 Atavus

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