What’s the point of making your entire body bulletproof with your perfect training regimen if you’re just going to sit the bench because of a concussion? I’ve seen a great deal of fantastic athletes brought down by a simple bonk on the head. Football is the most notorious of this conundrum and organizations such as high school leagues, the NCAA, and even the NFL are implementing precautionary measures to limit the amount of brain cells killed each year by concussions. With that being said, these organizations have taken some mighty (and some questionable) steps for the protection of their athletes. In today’s post, I’m going to shed some light on a few ways that you can help to protect yourself.
1. LEARN how to tackle. Knowing how to tackle corretly is one of the most fundamental parts of football. It happens almost every play. Yet not that much time is spent on technique drills. By technique drills, I’m not talking about hitting sleds or dummies, I’m talking about taking the time to teach positioning and mechanics. Take the time to learn step by step movements on get yourself low, wrap up, use your hips and drive. It’s a skill and technique should be practiced even in the off-season.
2. Do Shrugs. This one’s simple. Shrug variations are great for building some stability in your neck and keeping your head from bouncing around. Plus, they help you to look like Bane and that’s a win-win.
3. Strengthen your neck CORRECTLY. There are many, “neck strengthening exercises” out there that consist of nodding against a machine or weight attached to your head. These are extremely questionable and I can’t honestly recommend them. If you want to protect your noggin’ from concussions then you need to train your neck to RESIST MOVEMENT, not causemovement. Plus, it’s an old rule of thumb that every time you load active cervical extension (tilting your neck upwards), you kill a puppy. The best way to correctly complete this task is to perform manual resistance as in the photo below. Keep in mind that the neck is comprised of a plethora of tiny muscles and does not need a lot of force to get a training effect.
4. Don’t rely heavily on your pads. I truly believe that football would have a lot less injuries if players weren’t strapped to the teeth with force-absorbing equipment. It gives the athlete a false sense of invincibility and leads to people just throwing their bodies into the opponent. This creates bad habits and reinforces poor tackling technique.