BOISE -- Over the last few years, more people and former NFL players have become outspoken about concussions and the safety of football. An official for USA Football says they've seen a six percent decrease in participation in youth football. Coaches and leaders came together Saturday to combat that decrease and make football safer.
After spending the morning in the classroom with experts, local Optimist Youth Football player safety coaches took to the field to put their knowledge into practice. The player safety coaches for Optimist Youth Football practiced tackling techniques that help avoid head injuries.
"I've seen over the years a lot of fundamentals being lost, especially in relation to helmet-to-helmet contact, kind of discouraging," said Terry Summerfield, master trainer with USA Football. "That's why I got involved in the Heads Up football program was to be a part of changing a culture and making the game safer."
Summerfield taught the coaches drills they can take back to their teams and other coaches.
"It is about education and going into those grassroots levels and teaching parents and coaches about doing things a safer way," said Summerfield.
The player safety coaches at the camp Saturday work with kids seven to 12 years old. Director of Coaching and Player Safety Jerron Moore says after 65 years of Optimist Football in the Treasure Valley, they need to adapt and change.
"It used to be if you had a football team, you'd go find a dad, usually it was someone that played football, and you'd hand him a whistle and say 'you're a coach,' and he'd go out and do what he was taught 10, 15 years ago when he played football," said Moore.
These days, Optimist is asking for more from their coaches and teaching coaches and parents about safer hitting.
"What we teach these kids here, they're going to carry to the next level and the next level," Moore said. "The Jake Plummers that played in our program, the Bryan Harsins that are coaching and played in our program, we want that legacy to continue and we have to do that by keeping them safe."
Moore said all the coaches in Optimist have to complete specific training before they can coach.