FNF Coaches Talk — A Multi-School Weight Lifting Competition, Concussions Are Down, Building More Inclusive Teams

Welcome back, Coaches. Here’s three stories for today.

1. Oregon team hosts multi-school weight lifting competition (Polk County Itemizer/Observer)

Here’s a great idea for athletic directors and football coaches.

An Oregon high school (Central High) hosted a co-ed weight-lifting competition, attended by several different schools, including Amity High School, North Salem High School, Willamette High School, Gladstone High School and Hermiston High School.

Athletic Development teacher Rob Kassebaum put the whole thing together, with help from numerous CHS teachers and coaches. Last spring, a similar competition was held – it was Central’s first competition of the sort in 20 years.

As far as Kassebaum knows, this weight lifting competition is the only one in the state for high school. He said he hopes these competitions become a regular thing at the high school level.

“Strength training is something I am trying to promote,” he said. “The kids in my athletic development class are working hard, and it’s a good chance for athletes who don’t otherwise get a chance at competition, to compete.”

The girls and boys competing were separated by weight class; the boys were also separated into two age groups: ninth-10th, and 11th-12th.

Each individual had three chances at lifting the designated weight in the bench press, squat and power-clean lifts before moving on to the next weight. Judges, members of Western Oregon University’s football team, sat at tables and helped with spotting, making sure the performance was up to standards.

What’s stopping you from organizing a multi-school weight lifting competition as a fundraising event?

2. NFHS: Concussion numbers drop in football over five-year period (MaxPreps)

Here’s some good news for coaches as we continue to try to push back on the narrative that football is an unsafe sport.

Dr. Karissa Niehoff, the NFHS Executive Director, shared some statistics regarding concussions, and the numbers are actually looking much better over the last five years.

She credits the NFHS Concussion in Sports course, the improved NFHS playing rules in all high school sports that contain guidelines for management of an athlete who exhibits signs and symptoms of a concussion, and the creation of concussion laws in every state. We also know USA Football is out in front in terms of educating coaches on proper tackling and blocking technique.

Data from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study released late last year indicated that concussion rates during football practices dropped from 5.47 to 4.44 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 seasons. Repeat concussion rates across all sports declined from 0.47 to 0.28 per 10,000 exposures during the same time period.

It’s a good feather in the cap for coaches who have to defend the game when pressed by concerned parents.

From the youth level where USA Football has created the Football Development Model to reduce contact and teach fundamentals in a progressive manner, to the educational initiatives of the NFHS to reduce injury risk in high school sports, the focus on player safety has never been higher.

How do you assuage a parent’s concerns that football is a dangerous sport?

3. Why Shared Goals Can Bridge Divides (Greater Good Magazine)

The guest on this podcast is a 19-year football coach, Monte Robinson. He talks about how can people from different groups get on the same page, a strategy for building stronger, more inclusive teams.

Right out of the gate, he shares an exercise that helped his team get on the same page.

There’s always an activity that we do. We pass around a note card and had a guys write down: What do you want to wish your individual goal for yourself and wish your team goal? And we have them shared out, you know, outside of just winning, what else do you want to accomplish with being a part of this team? And then get into the nuts and bolts of it. You know, how do we get there? What do we need to do every day? You know, how hard do we need to work, how much time we need to spend in the weight room? What do you have to do academically? The guys’ grades shot up, their behavior improved, things like that. And we started winning football games, which was good, too!”

What types of exercises do you do with your players to make the team seem more inclusive?