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Kern High School District Safer Tackling Clinic

By Kyle Wylie, Coordinator of School Support Services, KHSD
Football players of the Kern High School District gathered at the Bakersfield College practice field to learn safer tackling techniques on Friday, May 19.
"We came to this clinic to preserve the game of football - the game that we all love." This statement was redundant from coaches and players of the Kern High School District as they gathered for the 2nd KHSD Tackling Clinic at Bakersfield College on Friday, May 19, 2017. About 500 student athletes and about 80 coaches gathered to learn and implement safer tackling techniques in order to minimize player injury to the head and neck region as well as to reduce player to player contact while maintaining game speed. The district also partnered with Bakersfield College as Head Coach Jeff Chudy, his staff, and some of his players were assisting with the logistics of the clinic. 
In the morning, coaches from a majority of the schools from the Kern High School District took to the classroom to learn from former NFL and collegiate Defensive Coordinator, Mark Banker on new approaches to one of the most vital parts of the game of football - tackling. Banker stressed that one of the most pressing issues with American football is player safety and the approach to the game must change in order to preserve its legacy. Banker narrowed his approach to the game of football to two basic fundamentals - blocking and tackling. "You take tackling and blocking out of the game, you don't have football. Today, we are going to look at our approach to tackling." Banker defined tackling as a "desired collision" in order to bring down a ball carrier to the ground. Banker stressed the importance of changing the approach to tackling to coaches because many of the old ways of teaching are simply dangerous and antiquated. "Our goal is to begin to shift our focus of tackling by taking the head and neck out of the equation because and focus on utilizing hand and shoulder placement instead," stated Banker, "Tackling is about proper leverage with our bodies, NOT with our heads." 
Former NFL and Collegiate Defensive Coordinator, Mark Banker demonstrating a safer tackling technique.
After a classroom session, Banker took to the field with coaches and walked through various drills in order to promote more effective and safer tackling techniques. Shoulder placement, hands, and leverage were the consistent themes of each drill as each coach of the Kern High School District gathered around Banker to glean his words. "There are a few important techniques with regards to tackling and leverage that we are going to implement with our players, " stated Bakersfield High School Defensive Coordinator Jay Durant. Moreover, each school was provided products from Shadowman Sports such as tackling dummies and blocking bags in order to promote less player contact in tackling drills while maintaining the speed of the game. "Our goal of Shadowman Sports is to reduce the impact on the body that each athlete in the game of football has to face," stated CEO of Shadowman Sports, JP Harrington, who was also in attendance for the clinic.
In the afternoon, KHSD buses came loaded with players from each school to learn the techniques from their coaches that were taught to them by Banker. Each coach stressed to their players the importance of maintaining leverage while using their hands and shoulders properly. No coach mentioned using the head in order to tackle, demonstrating that all in attendance know that changes must be made in order to protect students and preserve the game of football. 
From Left to Right: (1) Arvin High School Head Coach Edgar Mares working with his player on safer tackling. (2) Coach Banker working with North High School Students on safer tackling. (3) Two South High School football players working on safer tackling techniques.
The game of football is the most popular sport in our society. However, in the last few years, there has been much attention about safety of the game that so many Americans love. Changes need to be made in order to preserve the game of football. Through its second tackling clinic, the Kern High School District and Bakersfield College are taking important strides and doing their part in order to protect players and preserve the game of football. 
From Left to Right: Director of School Support Services in the KHSD - Stan Green, CEO of Shadowman Sports - JP Harrington, and Head Coach Bakersfield College - Jeff Chudy. Each leading the way to promote player safety and preserve the game of football.