The University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) have worked collaboratively to take an unprecedented step forward to make football a safer sport. In October 2017, the UIL Legislative Council passed a rule requiring every Texas high school and junior high school football coach to become certified in teaching tackling as a part of the official UIL Coaches Certification Program beginning with the 2018-19 school year.
With this new measure, UIL has made Texas the first in the country to implement a mandatory statewide tackling certification program for all football coaches. In a joint effort between UIL and THSCA to raise standards and improve safety, Atavus Sports was selected as the exclusive provider to oversee and administer the certification process statewide. Atavus Sports is a Seattle-based organization focused on tackling techniques and tackle data analytics. The primary objective of this collaboration is to enhance Texas High School football by providing best practices in tackling training for all football coaches and keeping athletes who play the game safer.
“The UIL Legislative Council overwhelmingly supported this measure,” said Dr. Charles Breithaupt, executive director of the University Interscholastic League. “We view the addition of a mandatory tackling certification for football coaches as a positive educational extension that will ultimately improve the game and the welfare of our students.”
“The game is changing, and we have to be willing to change with it,” said D.W. Rutledge, executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association. “By implementing a mandatory tackling certification, we’re continuing our legacy in Texas as leaders in high school football and taking necessary steps to move the game forward. Preventing injuries is paramount for all coaches and players, and we felt that as an organization it was our duty to seek out the best possible solutions to keeping our players safe.”
The certification process for coaches begins in July 2018. It will be available in two formats. The first option is an on-site training offered by THSCA, consisting of a presentation followed by a live assessment that must be passed to receive certification. The second option, available beginning April 1, 2019, is an online platform, which allows coaches to achieve certification at their own pace but consists of a similar educational presentation and final assessment.
“Being from Texas and a former football coach in the state, this means a lot to me,” said Rex Norris, head of football for Atavus Sports. “A dominant tackle is a safer tackle, and we are excited to get to work helping coaches teach tackling techniques that will benefit their players and improve their team’s performance.”
Atavus has spent the past five years educating coaches and players of all skill levels, working with elite college football programs across the country such as Michigan State University, Rutgers University, The University of Washington, Ohio State University, The University of Nebraska and more. At the high school level in Texas, Atavus has worked with a number of schools, including Sulphur Springs, Waxahachie, Rockwall, Westbrook and Brownwood high schools, as well as a long list of other schools across the U.S.
“We know that Texas is widely regarded as the pinnacle of high school football,” said Karen Bryant, CEO of Atavus Sports. “We’re thrilled they have decided to take action and lead the way in recognizing that tackling is an important part of the game. We certainly hope that other states follow Texas’s lead and implement similar certification processes in their organizations.”
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