As technology advances and concussions are being diagnosed more frequently, coaches, parents and players alike are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of America’s favorite sport, football. Despite increasing awareness regarding concussions and constant rule reforms implemented by the NFL to make the game safer, concussions are still occurring at an alarming rate. The NFL reported a 32 percent increase in concussions in the 2015 season. It’s clear most players, fans and coaches want a safer game, but no one wants the NFL to turn into that awful game of flag football your dad and uncles play on Thanksgiving at the local middle school.
In an effort to make football a safer sport across all levels without compromising any of its physicality, Seattle based company, Atavus Football, is turning the game of football on its head. Instead of relying on classic tackling techniques passed down from generations prior, the company is using technology to develop an online curriculum to reshape the art of tackling. Partnering with the computer science department at the University of Washington, the technology and sports education company is changing the way football is being played by teaching coaches and athletes how to tackle in a less concussion-prone, safer way.
As opposed to the traditional tackling style seen in football where the player takes several small steps before lunging forward with their heads up, and thus using their helmet as a ‘weapon’, Atavus Football bases their program on the shoulder-led tackling style most commonly associated with rugby. The Atavus Online Training Program is a step-by-step program designed to educate coaches on how to teach this style of tackling. Each online module contains a video demonstration, a look at common mistakes, coaching tip videos, quizzes and a drill sheet. Throughout every module, the system emphasizes keeping the head out of the tackle by striking the opponent’s hips and thighs with the shoulder.
“To truly change on-field results, we must address the youngest generations of players. Our mission and approach is resonating with coaches, players and parents at all levels of the game. Everyone wants confident, instinctive, effective and safer tacklers. We teach them how.” Said Rex Norris, Jr., Atavus Head of Football.
Coaches at all levels of the game are adopting the new system as growing concerns about the safety of the sport are being brought into question. Ranging from ranked football high schools in Washington, Texas and Kentucky, to universities such as the University of Washington, the University of Nebraska and Ohio State all the way up to the professional level with the Seattle Seahawks, the Atavus Tackle System is gaining momentum and respect from top-tier programs across the country.
After rule reforms and awareness have failed to reduce concussion rates in the NFL, it’s obvious that simply being cognizant of the health problems associated with football isn’t enough. There needs to be a radical shift not only in policy, but in the way players are tackling, and that starts with the right coaching. As rugby-style tackling gains momentum, evidence of its effectiveness and safety also continues to grow. After adopting the rugby-style tackling system taught by Atavus, only four Seahawks players have suffered concussions in the past three years.
In addition to the online training program available today, the company is launching both a practice film assessment and a game film analysis to evaluate effectiveness of coaching and execution of athletes’ tackling through live film. Both programs will be available starting July 18, 2016.