USA Football

USA Football
USA Football Logo.svg
HeadquartersIndianapolis, Indiana
Free and paid, depending on type
Official language
English (US)
Raymond T. Odierno
Key people
Scott Hallenbeck (CEO and Executive Director),

USA Football is the national governing body for amateur American football in the United States. It is an independent non-profit based in Indianapolis, Indiana. USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance, unify and grow the sport. As the sport’s national governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experience for youth, high school and other amateur players.

USA Football was endowed by the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association in 2002.

Coach Education and Certification

Heads Up Football

Created by USA Football in 2012, this education and safety program covers fundamental skills and all-sport-relevant athlete health protocols offered nationally. More than 600,000 coach certifications have been completed through the program since 2012.

Nine of the 10 largest U.S. public school districts – and 16 of 20 largest – enrolled in the USA Football program in 2018 on either high school and/or middle school levels. For the second consecutive year, more than 3,000 high schools nationwide enrolled in Heads Up Football in 2018.

Heads Up football is supported by the ACSM, AMSSM, NATA, and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. The program’s significant momentum represents cultural and behavioral change. More Heads Up Football details reside here. Its educational components are:

  • Concussion recognition and response
  • Heat preparedness and hydration
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Proper equipment fitting
  • Shoulder tackling
  • Blocking

USA Football’s 2020 Youth Coach Certification, nationally accredited by the United States Center for Coaching Excellence, was updated this year and is no longer referred to as Heads Up Football, but incorporates the aforementioned educational components in addition to some new content and resources.

Grant Program

USA Football’s equipment grant program is made possible through the National Football League Foundation. The NFL Foundation is the league’s nonprofit organization representing the 32 NFL clubs. Its mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities which support the game.

USA Football’s grant program has delivered the following since 2006:

  • Awarded more than $15 million in grants to school-based and youth football programs
  • Benefited more than 500,000 youth and high school football players in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Assisted more than 9,500 youth and high school football programs in all 50 states

Youth Tackle Football Practice Guidelines

Established in 2015, USA Football’s Youth Tackle Football Practice Guidelines may be the only youth sports guidelines to have earned the endorsement of the following sports medicine associations:

  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM)
  • National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA)
    • Combined, these three organizations comprise more than 50,000 members across 90 countries spanning 70 occupations within sports medicine.

USA Football’s guidelines employ the innovation of defining levels of contact (below) and establishes time limits on player-to-player full contact (“thud” and “live” contact).

The guidelines define “thud”-level contact as “full contact” and limits it, unlike other practice guidelines on higher levels of the sport.

These guidelines also address proper heat acclimatization, which was written with advisement from the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Board of Directors

In January 2017, Raymond Odierno, a retired U.S. Army general, was named chairman of USA Football. He was preceded by Carl Peterson, formerly the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, who had been chairman since 2009, when he succeeded Jack Kemp.

As of December 2020, USA Football's Board of Directors includes:

  • Gen. Raymond T. Odierno (Ret.), Chairman
  • Todd Berry, American Football Coaches Association
  • Mike Golic, ESPN
  • Roger Goodell*, National Football League
  • Cody Hawkins†, University of California-Davis
  • Oliver Luck, Private Investor
  • Kelly Mehrtens, The Trust
  • Dr. Michael McCrea, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Willie McGinest, NFL Network
  • Kandice Pritchett Mitchell†, Atlanta Public Schools
  • Mark Murphy, Green Bay Packers
  • Dr. Karissa Niehoff, National Federation of State High School Associations
  • Elizabeth Okey†, Wintrust Financial Corporation
  • Dr. Allen Sills, National Football League
  • Brad Smithey†, Freeport (Texas) Brazosport High School
  • Kevin Warren, Big Ten Conference
  • Stan Wilcox, National Collegiate Athletic Association

*Ex officio member

†U.S. Football National Team Alumnus


USA Football is affiliated with the following sponsor-partnerships:

  • Catapult
  • Commerce Bank
  • FlipGive
  • Gatorade
  • Gilman Gear
  • Hospital for Special Surgery
  • Musco Lighting
  • Mobile Virtual Player
  • National Football League
    • National Football League Foundation
  • NBC SportsEngine
  • NYU Langone Health
  • OES Scoreboards
  • Peopletrail
  • Pop Warner Little Scholars
  • Port-a-Field
  • Riddell
  • TackleBar
  • Transcend Benefits Group
  • Volt Athletics


In May 2017, after a split that created rival groupings of the International Federation of American Football, the IFAF grouping based in Paris stripped its recognition of USA Football, citing disputes over anti-doping enforcement. IFAF (Paris) instead recognized the United States Federation of American Football as the USA's governing body, and the USFAF organized a team to participate in the 2017 World Games, in which it won a bronze medal. The grouping of the IFAF based in New York continued to recognize USA Football and organized the 2017 Women's World Championships, which the USA won.

In March 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) determined that the IFAF (NY) was the proper governing entity and voided all decisions of the other IFAF entity, including their decision to strip USA Football of its recognition. USA Football is currently the internationally recognized governing body for American football in the United States.

See also USA football update

This page was last updated at 2021-11-24 01:31 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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