UK Football Coach Mark Stoops said last night we want to “Play Clean, Hard and Wrap-up on tackles. Play with defensive Pressure.”….” No targeting with the head”. [Tom Leach Show Aug. 26, 2013]

Spearing with the head: It’s been “illegal to launch at an opponent above his shoulders since 2008, worthy of a 15-yard penalty for each infraction. But starting this year, 2013, the offending player will also be ejected” [NCAA Rule Change]

Sports Concussion Prevention begins with the Head Coach, who should teach athletes, assistant Coaches and everyone concerned with the team about safe playing techniques and insist that everyone follow the rules of play. Coaches actions should reflect their dedication to Athlete Safety 1st.

Out of Bounds exists for both Rules of Play and Rules of Child and Youth Athlete Protection by the Coach. Both Rules sets can be breached.

Everyone knows Sports accidents happen that are inherrent and natural to the games that Athletes play. These are Accidental and Not-Preventable and not the group being considered in this publication.

There are an estimated 300,000 sports-related concussions each year in the United States. The CDC states that approximately 50% of Sports injuries and deaths are Preventable, Not Accidental. They are Not inherrent or natural to the games that Athletes play. Reducing these Preventable, Not Accidental concussions will reduce the anual concussion rate by approximately 150,000 injuries. These are the targeted Concussions of this publication. That would be a significant Athlete Safety improvement.

Concussion Prevention techniques and proper equipment utilization should also be instructed by Team Physicians and Trainers and investigated by Physicians should a Concussion Epidemic occur. Follow-up Physician recommendations should be made and imposed when necessary, following a Forensic investigation.

Now too often it appears, Coaches, athletic departments, directors, administrators, associations, federations, sports medicine doctors and many others turn a blind eye to the endangerments and negligence in win-at-all-costs, bottom lined sports programs. These Concussions result from Problematic Coaching methods. They are often ignored and regarded as “just part of the game”. These are the targeted Concussions of this publication.

Eliminating Concussions that are Peventable, Not-Accidental, not natural and inherrent to the game Athletes play will reduce the annual concussion rate by ~ 150,000 injuries. Examples in football are: ill-fitting helmets, defective helmets, spearing head to head blocking, tackling taught by Coaches, Concussion mismanagement, failure to diagnosis, failure to do follow-up testing, returning to play too soon after Concussion etc.

“I’m not in favor of abolishing any sport for children, football included. (said Robert C. Cantu). Sports have too much to offer young people. There is nothing like being part of a Little League team or competing as a swimmer, tennis player or golfer to promote perseverance, sportsmanship, fair play, to keep fighting until the last point in the match or the last out. These are traits that carry us through life’s challenges.

“In light of what we now know about concussions and the brains of children, though, many sports should be fine-tuned. But many parents and coaches are satisfied with the rules as they are. They like seeing youngsters in helmets and pads, and watching them slide headfirst into second base. The closer the peewee games resemble those of the professionals, the happier we are. It’s natural for a parent or a coach. Even a neurosurgeon.

“But children are not adults. Their bodies are still maturing. Their vulnerabilities to head trauma are far greater.

“A child’s brain and head are disproportionately large for the rest of the body, especially through the first five to eight years of life. And a child’s weak neck cannot brace for a hit the way an adult’s can. (Think of a bobblehead doll.) A child’s cranium at 4 is about 90 percent the size an adult’s. That’s important to a discussion of concussions and concussion risk.

“We cannot eliminate head trauma from youth sports. What we can change is our mind-set so protecting the head and the brain is always a top consideration.

“The guiding principle should be that no head trauma is good head trauma. Let’s re-examine youth sports and take steps to keep young athletes safe. I would like to see these changes written into the rules across the country.
[Preventing Sports Concussions Among Children by Robert C. Cantu, the New York Times, October 6, 2012]

“What is very important about this article is that it points out that concussions can occur in girls’ sports with significant frequency, and that girls and their parents need to be aware that these injuries must be carefully managed to prevent permanent damage,” Ogborn says [Reasons Female Athletes At Higher Risk For Concussions Than Males Hard To Explain, Says Dr. Robert Cantu]

Not only managed after Concussion, but Concussions must be carefully Prevented. Prevention and Athlete Safety 1st are the duty of the head Coach, Athletic Director and all administrators.

“Given the 2010 position statement issued by the American Academy of Neurology that neurologists be consulted on return-to-play decisions following a concussion, we surveyed members of the Child Neurology Society to asses clinical practice management of concussion among child neurologists. Among the 239 respondents, the majority continued to rely on the American Academy of Neurology’s 1997 Practice Parameter to guide their decision-making process. Although the 2008 consensus statement from the Third International Conference on Concussion in Sport (Zurich Guidelines) is currently considered the most up-to-date guideline, few respondents relied exclusively on this guideline. More respondents who completed continuing medical education on concussion reported making clinical decisions based on the Zurich guidelines. The finding that child neurologists who completed continuing medical education had a greater familiarity with the more recently proposed consensus-based concussion guidelines supports the development of additional education in sports concussion at all levels of child neurology training. [Current Practices of the Child Neurologist in Managing Sports Concussion, Donna K. Broshek, PhD1, Hillary Samples, BS1, Jennifer Beard, PhD1, Howard P. Goodkin, MD, PhD2⇓1Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA 2Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics, Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA Howard P. Goodkin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, PO Box 800394, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA Email:, J Child Neurol November 8, 2012]
Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury, CDC

AS A COACH, you can play a key role in preventing concussions and responding to them properly when they occur. Here are some steps you can take to ensure the best outcome for your athletes and the team:

• Educate athletes and parents about concussion. Talk with athletes and their parents about the dangers and potential long term consequences of concussion. For more information on long term effects of concussion, take the free online training for coaches and parents:

Explain your concerns about concussion and your expectations of safe play to athletes, parents, and assistant coaches. Pass out the concussion fact sheets for athletes and for parents at the beginning of the season and again if a concussion occurs.

• Insist that safety comes first.
> Teach athletes safe playing techniques and encourage them to follow the rules of play.
> Encourage athletes to practice good sportsmanship at all times.
> Make sure athletes wear the right protective equipment for their activity (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained, and be worn consistently and correctly.
> Review the athlete fact sheet with your team to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
> Athletes should be kept from play until evaluated and given permission to return by a health care professional). Parents and athletes should sign the concussion policy statement at the beginning of the sports season.

• Teach athletes and parents that it’s not smart to play with a concussion. Sometimes players and parents wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play injured. Discourage others from pressuring injured athletes to play. Don’t let athletes persuade you that they’re “just fine” after they have sustained any bump or blow to the head. Ask if players have ever had a concussion.

• Prevent long term problems. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first—usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks)—can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage, and even death.3, 4 Keep athletes with known or suspected concussion from play until they have been evaluated and given permission to return to play by a health care professional with experience in evaluating for concussion. Remind your athletes: “It’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”
[PREVENTION AND PREPARATION, Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury, CDC]


  1. Jodi Murphy

    “What is very important about this article is that it points out that concussions can occur in girls’ sports with significant frequency”

    Concussions can occur in any sport, although obviously full contact sports like football are going to be the most likely culprit. I read an article not too long ago that talked about the dramatic rise of concussions among cheerleaders. Imagine getting thrown several feet into the air and than dropped–I can only imagine how bad of a concussion that would cause!

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