At the Geneseo Youth Football camp, developing a base set of skills is the primary goal.

At the Geneseo Youth Football camp, developing a base set of skills is the primary goal.

For young players, being able to be confident and comfortable on the field is a key toward progressing in the game.

The skills gained at the lower levels seems even more significant with the addition of new restrictions on contact at the high-school level.

This season, new rules implemented by the Illinois High School Association are intended to curb injury risk by limiting contact.

Although, Geneseo’s football program already has been trending this direction because they are able to rely upon athletes to learn fundamentals of the game at the lower levels.

“We really haven’t changed the blueprint very much,” Geneseo football coach Larry Johnsen said. “The camps, little league and our middle school are all set up to teach the fundamentals.”

The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors approved restrictions limiting the number of hours and days each week a football team is allowed to have live contact during padded practices.

When practicing two times in a single day during the preseason, just one practice can contain contact in full pads.

Additionally, teams will be limited to three days of live full contact per week, with a total of 90 minutes maximum live full contact to be used over the course of those three days.

The restrictions came recommended by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Football Advisory Committee.

Although the implementation of the new rules begins in August, the Green Machine will still have plenty of drills and skills to work on before the start of the season on Aug. 28.

“It’s not going to really affect us much,” Johnsen said. “We are just going to keep the status quo, and there won’t be whole lot of adjusting we are going to have to do.”

Building a continuity at the younger levels allows them to focus on re-teaching and refreshing players rather than starting from scratch when players reach the high-school level.

Following a record turnout of 80 kids attending the camp last season, this season camp set a new high with more than 100 kids participating.

“We are teaching them how to do things one way, whatever it may be,” Johnsen said. “We keep doing it in little league football and middle school football. Until it just becomes second nature.”

And building something they can relay upon when they are tested on the field.

“It’s the same as if you have worked a job five, six or seven years,” Johnsen said. “You understand how the system works, what you are supposed to do, how to do it and you have a plan.

“It’s no different for these guys. We are not going to change what we do on the field because then we would be screwing up the whole system. To us, it has always been the player who can do the things the fastest and to their maximum potential; those teams are the successful ones.”