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Bears host events to teach youth player safety

The Chicago Bears hosted two USA Football Protection Tour events this summer to teach youth football players, coaches and parents about player safety as part of USA Football's Heads Up Football program.


Former Bears player Gary Fencik addresses youth football players, coaches and parents about player safety.

On Saturday, July 27, the Bears and USA Football welcomed over 200 youth football players, coaches and parents to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL during Bears Training Camp. The program covered proper tackling, equipment fitting and concussion awareness. Parents and coaches learned about the program from USA Football representatives, received instructions helmet fit from Riddell representatives and discussed concussion awareness with Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth, a concussion expert with NorthShore University HealthSystem. Former Bears tight end Desmond Clark and offensive tackle James "Big Cat" Williams led the youth players through on-field drills.

The Bears and USA Football hosted a similar event at Soldier Field on Thursday, August 1. Former Bears defensive tackle and Heads Up Football Ambassador Anthony Adams joined youth football players for on-field drills, while parents and coaches attended a concussion seminar led by Bears team doctor Dr. Adam Bennett, and former Bears safety Gary Fencik.

Adopted in 2013 by youth leagues on a national level, Heads Up Football requires five primary elements:

1) Heads Up tackling: USA Football's Heads Up tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.

2) Concussion recognition and response: Coaches learn and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football's Level 1 Coaching Certification Course. Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic and have them reinforced throughout the season.

3) Coaching education: All coaches within a youth program are trained to teach the game's fundamentals by completing USA Football's nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.

4) Equipment fitting: Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

5) Player safety coach: Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football youth organization, this individual ensures compliance with Heads Up Football's player safety protocols, including coaching certification and conducting safety clinics for coaches, parents and players.

For more information about USA Football and the Heads Up Football program, please visit

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