TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- American football is at a crossroads with popularity and the safety of the game.
One local Kansas youth league has found a way to teach the game the right way at an early age and still have fun.
The Northeast Kansas Youth Football League is preaching a new brand of football and it begins with all coaches becoming Heads Up Certified.
Thunderbird Youth Football Club Director John Jones said, "It really came down to the fact that we were most concerned about safety. We want to have a good time and we want to put together a competitive team, but more than anything else, we don't want to get anybody hurt."
The Heads Up football program from USA Football, educates football coaches on the proper fundamentals of tackling, concussion awareness and reducing helmet to helmet collisions.
"Really, we are just teaching a different way to tackle than what was the norm. The point for us is that we have our kids deliver an upward blow so that they are not using their head as a weapon," said Jones.
The decision by the league to go all in on safety has put many parents at ease.
Robin Block, who has a son on the 4th grade team said, "I have a lot of confidence in the coaches that they will teach our kids the proper technique to keep them from getting injured more. I'm really confident in how the training has increased their ability to detect injuries."
Coaches say teaching the Heads Up technique hasn't taken away from the aggressive nature of the game. In fact, it has improved play on the field. "There's still contact, that doesn't change, we just want to take the head out of the tackle. We are actually seeing that when we get the head out of the tackle, the kids are seeing what is going on and they miss less."