Local Coaches Stress Football Safety

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BAY COUNTY-- Football season is right around the corner, and schools across Bay County are gearing up for game day.

As with most contact sports, coaches are preparing for risks. Heads Up Football, a USA Football initiative, is working to keep the kids out of the hospital and on the field.

"We are starting at a young age to create a better and safer game. Our catch line is when in doubt sit them out." Heads Up Football organizer Danny Cowgill said.

Heads Up Football hosted a clinic Sunday afternoon in Panama City. Nearly a dozen football coaches learned about concussion awareness, heat and hydration safety and equipment fitting.

Organizers said it's important that coaches be aware and keep an eye out for red flags, especially when it comes to concussion symptoms. Cowgill said, "A kid that just doesn't feel right. They may be slow talking. That far away look, you know something is just not right about them. They forget things. They can't tell you where they are at."

Cowgill said the 3 H's: Heat, Hydration, Humidity, play a huge factor in an athlete's performance. For coaches, Cowgill said it's important to gradually acclimate players to the Florida heat.

"[We talked about] How to properly hydrate, how to prevent them from heat illnesses or heat stroke," he said.

Cowgill also said property fitting helmets and shoulder pads are must haves. He said, "If the helmet is too big its going to be loose, which is going to subject the kid to possible injury."

Preseason football starts Friday. Regular season begins on the 29th.