South Portland Youth Football


Coaches Huddle

Coaches: Get the latest on certifications, safety programs, coaches education and clinics

Attention Coaches: View Heads Up Videos

We have pulled together the links to view the training videos on the new recommended way to teach heads-up tackling. This method of tackling is reported to reduce head/neck injury risks, which in turn reduces the risk of concussions.


Step 1 - Breakdown

Step 2 - Buzz

Step 3 - Hit

Step 4 - Shoot

Step 5 - Rip


spyf and the usa football heads up program

Committed to Safety in Youth Football

The South Portland Youth Football League based in South Portland, Maine, is committed to ensuring a positive youth football experience and advancing player safety this fall by providing league-wide coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents, and coaches through USA Football’s Heads Up Football program. 

USA Football is the official youth development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams. SPYFL includes eight teams comprised of more than 175 players and over 30 coaches throughout South Portland. 

Every SPYFL coach will be trained in Heads Up

Football techniques before leading their teams

this season. All SPYFL head coaches and

assistant coaches will complete USA Football’s

accredited Level 1 Coach Certification Course,

which includes Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and

response protocols; proper helmet and shoulder

pad fitting; and Heads Up Tackling techniques,

which aim to take the head out of the line

of contact.

Through Heads Up Football, a Player Safety

Coach will be trained by USA Football to

implement, evaluate, and monitor Heads Up

Football player safety protocols within the

organization. Player Safety Coaches work with league commissioners, coaches, parents, and players throughout the season to provide on-site clinics and mentoring to ensure that coaching and player safety best practices are used. 

“We are excited to partner with USA Football and the NFL to ensure the safety of our kids,” said Steve Stinson, South Portland High School’s

Head Football Coach. “

“Heads Up Football promotes

a safer, better game,” USA

Football Executive Director

Scott Hallenbeck said. “We

are proud to have South Portland Youth Football join us in leading America’s youth football community through Heads Up Football, helping to set the highest standards of player safety, and coaching education in any youth sport.”

Adopted in 2013 by SPYFL and by youth leagues on a national level, Heads Up Football requires five primary elements:

Heads Up Tackling

USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.

Concussion Recognition and Response

Coaches learn and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football’s Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.

Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic and have them reinforced throughout the season.

Coaching Education

All coaches within a youth program are trained to teach the game’s fundamentals by completing USA Football’s nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.

Equipment Fitting

Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

Player Safety Coach

Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football youth organization. This individual ensures compliance with Heads Up Football’s player safety protocols, including coaching certification and conducting safety clinics for coaches, parents and players.

USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique was developed with contributions from USA Football’s Tackle Advisory Committee, which includes Northwestern head coach PAT FITZGERALD, UCLA head coach JIM MORA, former NFL running back MERRIL HOGE, Miami Christopher Columbus High School head coach CHRIS MERRITT and sports psychologist DR. DAVID YUKELSON.

About USA Football

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, leads the game’s development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association. USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competitions and provides more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies. Endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002 through the NFL Youth Football Fund, USA Football ( is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.

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