Geneseo Youth Football coaches are getting certified in the USA Football’s Heads Up program this season.

Skills in sports don’t just develop overnight.

They need to be refined, maintained and reinforced until they become second nature.

The Geneseo Youth Football league is taking the same approach to coaching the game.

This is why Geneseo Youth Football coaches are getting certified in the USA Football’s Heads Up program this season.

The program focuses on training coaches on new practices and techniques concentrated around injury prevention and injury recognition.

A coach in the Geneseo Youth Football program for 10 years, James Mickley has seen how far the youth league has come in embracing new concepts during his coaching career.

“Coaching philosophies have changed a lot,” Mickley said. “I think that old-school mentality in coaching is gone. There’s no more of the tough it out, or we are not taking water breaks, and I don’t think kids are afraid to say if they are hurt.

“They’ve been trained to speak up when there’s something wrong or something that doesn’t feel right.”

Mickley believes the Heads Up program’s training is a way of refining and strengthening the awareness coaches have worked carefully to develop in Geneseo.

“As a whole, I would say the Geneseo Youth program stays well ahead of the old school way of thinking,” Mickley said. “We’ve been past that for several years. Now, we are formalizing it.”

Most youth players have almost no training prior to youth football which allows coaches to standardize new techniques which players can maintain throughout their playing careers.

Mickley appreciates how much energy is spent teaching players the proper techniques.

“It’s the same repetition of breaking it down into three steps and really placing your head where it needs to go,” Mickley said. “This is not a live drill, it’s all about the technical skills of getting kids comfortable with their body being in that position and where they should be making contact.”

The youth football league felt adding instruction from the Heads Up program was the right choice for the program because it comes with the backing of the NFL Foundation.

However, once coaches complete the training, Mickley insists the work of adhering to the best techniques and best practices has just begun.

“It’s ongoing training,” Mickley said. “You don’t just learn something once and assume that’s the way it’s going to be forever.”

Mickley believes a pillar of the Geneseo program is being able to teach kids the basics early and allowing kids to understand just why these techniques are beneficial.

“If you explain it to them they absorb it,” Mickley said. “It’s the fun thing about youth sports to me. You see it click for them, and it’s a neat time.”

It’s also essential for coaches to help youths keep things in perspective.

“It’s not about winning and losing,” Mickley said. “It’s about teaching them sportsmanship and how to play the game right. That’s always been our emphasis.”