PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry hosted a youth football camp Monday and Tuesday for dozens of boys and even a few girls.
The Cardinal coaching staff received help from their high school players.
Gesturing to his players, head coach David Diamont said a player can’t teach a child how to perform a technique unless he understands how to do it himself. So helping with camp reinforces fundamentals for the prep players.
The kids look up to the older players, so Diamont had his team slip on their practice jerseys at the end of camp so that the campers could learn to associate their camp counselors with jersey numbers for the coming season.
When the parents arrived to pick up the kids, Diamont asked a few adults to step out onto the floor of the fieldhouse basketball court. Then he had their children come out to explain and demonstrate some of the lessons they learned.
There is no piece of equipment made that can fully protect a child from a concussion, Diamont told the parents. The best way to prevent such an injury is to begin teaching proper safety techniques at an early age.
Kids are being taught never to lead with the crown of their helmets and never make a helmet-to-helmet hit, he said.
Not only are there rules in place now against such actions, but these kind of hits can hurt the tackler as often as it does the ball carrier.
On June 15, the National Federation of State High School Associations sent out a memo to teams across the country about rule changes and “points of emphasis.”
The rule changes include protection against have a defender “blown up” by an unseen blocker, Diamont told parents. If a blocker is coming in from the side, the block can be made by extending the arms and shoving a defender from the side; but, the contact cannot be leading with the helmet or the shoulder to try to hurt someone.
This could also apply to situations where a turnover occurs on the far side of the field, and someone far away from the action is popped when he isn’t involved in the play, according to the NFHS.
Another rule change is outlawing kickoffs where the ball is kicked straight down so that the ball flies back up into the air.
When the ball has contacted the ground like that, the receiving team legally can’t call a fair catch anymore, Diamont explained to parents. The person trying to make the catch can’t see the kicking team racing toward him as he looks up.
Last season, one coach told The News that this was a favorite strategy of a team in the state playoffs because the kicking team frequently could hit a receiver hard enough to cause a fumble.
“Players are ultimately responsible for using legal blocking and tackling techniques, and coaches have a responsibility to emphasize the use of legal contact,” stated the announcement from the NFHS.
“Therefore, unnecessary contact with opponents who are clearly out of the play, or contact that is excessive and unnecessary, has no place in the game of football. These unnecessary hits are unsafe acts and the techniques cannot be tolerated by those responsible for the game of football.”
The NFHS believes coaches need to exercise leadership in eliminating illegal contact, and game officials must act decisively to penalize illegal contact to minimize the risk of injury to players.
Before the campers were dismissed, Diamont invited parents to bring kids out on Sunday night to stretch with the team before Midnight Madness.
The football team will kick off the first day of practice at 12:01 a.m. Before that happens, the coach said the players would be arriving to stretch and loosen up around 10:30 p.m. Those wearing their camp T-shirt would be allowed out on the field to stretch with the players.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.