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Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

Reduce Concussions — Allow More Blocking Below the Waist

Rules vary from state to state, generally most states have a free blocking area near the line of scrimmage. Blocking below the waist outside this area is illegal unless you reside in Texas or Massachusetts. In the recent past the NFL has looked at eliminating blocking below the waist. Often with football rule changes, what happens in the NFL, especially regarding injury prevention, trickles down to the collegiate and eventually the high school levels. In fact the NCAA has recently changed their rules for blocking below the waist. I agree that blocking below the waist should be initiated from the front. There should be no blindside hits on crack blocks for instance. I’m not advocating for the reinstatement of these dangerous types of blocks. 

With the awareness of head injuries moving to the forefront of discussion among all levels of football along with an increased desire to diagnose and treat these injuries more efficiently, it’s befuddling why any football governing body would look to eliminate blocking below the waist. Would eliminating this type of block not increase the likelihood of a severe head injury? I’ve received notice today from a coaching colleague that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association is looking at the possibility of eliminating the free blocking zone, thus removing blocking below the waist from the high school game in Louisiana. 

The question that must be raised and posed to any governing body looking to make any change to the rules is; what will the game look like if we take this course of action? Blocking below the waist is already outlawed outside the free blocking zone in every state but Texas and Massachusetts.

I coach football in Alabama. What would be safest way for our running back to block a linebacker? Should I send him in there and ask him to block a player who in some cases outweighs him by upwards of 70 pounds face to face? Or would it be safer for me to ask him to cut that player? What about linemen? In week 10 we played Shades Valley and defensive linemen Daron Payne, who is one of the top defensive line recruits in the entire nation for the class of 2015. What would be the safest way to block him, above or below the waist? 

I’ve scoured the internet looking for the incidence of knee injuries in Texas high school football compared to other states. I was unable to find any significant data. From the friends I have in the state however, I’ve never heard of an overabundance of knee injuries in their game. They are coached how to cut block properly, and conversely how to defend against cut blocks.  I’d be interested in knowing if their concussion numbers aren’t lower than other states as well. 

This move to make the game safer is a commendable one. As a father of three children, two of them boys who are just starting their football journey, I want them to be safe when they play. This is why its important that we make sure they have all the necessary safety equipment and it’s fitted properly. The trend to eliminate blocking below the waist is a dangerous one. It guarantees more collisions will take place near the head area, with many more head to head collisions each and every game. As advocates and ultimately guardians of the game, we must ask ourselves, which part of the body should we do everything to protect– the knee or the head?

I know we have coaches from all over the world who read this site. Please share this article with your coaches, your conference members and your state associations. Let’s have a serious discussion about how blocking can impact player safety. 

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