More concussion education for youth football

NEW YORK (AP) — USA Football has strengthened its education courses on concussions, hydration and equipment.

The governing body for youth football in the United States is adding new material to its tackle and flag football coaching courses. By the start of the 2010 season, the organization will have helped educate more than 50,000 youth coaches spanning all 50 states through its online courses and full-day coaching schools.

More than 3 million youngsters play youth tackle football in the United States. An additional 1.14 million high school boys play football, more than doubling the next most popular sport, according to the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations.

The courses are offered through local youth football organizations across the nation. USA Football's concussion education and management chapter consists of an 11-minute video featuring former NFL running back Merril Hoge and Dr. Stanley Herring, the medical director of the Spine Center at Harborview Medical Center and a clinical professor at the University of Washington.

"Youth football participation today is higher than it has ever been and USA Football's coaching courses make the sport better and safer," Herring said. "Player health — particularly on matters of concussion — is rightfully commanding attention in every youth sport. With USA Football's leadership, football coaches are well prepared to monitor their players and know what to do when a young athlete's well being is in question."

The hydration emergency preparedness chapter covers the importance of acclimation, communication, understanding the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses, and how to respond to them. The equipment-fitting instruction presents proper techniques, advice and steps to follow when fitting helmets and shoulder pads.