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Barlow High football coach Terry Summerfield, a former college quarterback, has a sharp mind for designing plays that move the ball down the field. But this summer he has shifted his focus to tackling — more precisely how to tackle safely.

Summerfield travelled to Indianapolis in the spring to becom certified as a Master Trainer in the NFL’s “Heads Up Football” program and has spent his summer moving up and down the West Coast teaching player safety to youth-league coaches.

“It’s a grassroots effort to go to our youth teams and take the head out of the game,” Summerfield said. “It’s not a change that’s going to happen overnight, but over five to 10 years this next generation will learn not to use their head as a weapon and it will make the game safer.”

Summerfield direct a seven-hour clinic that includes film study and hands-on drills to teach coaches the fundamentals of tackling with an emphasis on keeping eyes forward. The program also teaches concussion awareness and proper equipment fitting.

“It’s really about changing the culture of the game,” Summerfield said. “Parents hear about concussions and they worry about putting their kids into football, but it’s been a big part of my life. There is so much right about the game, and I want every kid to have the opportunity to experience that.”

Youth programs that have signed on with USA Football are required to have a Player Safety Coach for each of their leagues. This person is responsible to tour practices and games during the season to make sure proper techniques are being taught.

Summerfield’s next clinic is set for Saturday, July 27, in Vancouver.

For more on the program visit usafootball.com.

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