USA Football

Governing body of American football
USA Football
Formation2002; 22 years ago (2002)
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 governing body of American football in the United States.[1] It is the United States' member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF),[2] and a recognized sports organization of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.[3] It selects and organizes the U.S. men's national team and the U.S. women's nation team in federation-sanctioned international competition. They also organize the men's and women's flag football teams.

USA Football is an independent non-profit organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana, whose mission includes designing and delivering premier educational, development, and competitive programs for American football, including tackle and flag football.[4] It partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experience for youth, high school and other amateur players.[5]

USA Football was endowed by the National Football League (NFL) and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] The program’s significant momentum represents cultural and behavioral change.[9] 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.[10]

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

USA Football’s Youth Tackle Football Practice Guidelines, established in 2015,[11] 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 and establishes time limits on player-to-player full contact (“thud” and “live” contact).[12] 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 February 2022, Peter W. Chiarelli, a retired U.S. Army general, was named chairman of USA Football.[13] He was preceded by Raymond Odierno, formerly the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, when he succeeded Carl Peterson in 2017.

As of June 2022[update], USA Football's Board of Directors includes:[14]

  • General Peter W. Chiarelli (Ret.), Chairman
  • Carl Allegretti, Arbor Investments
  • Todd Berry, American Football Coaches Association
  • Mike Golic, ESPN
  • Dr. Gerard Gioia, Children's National Hospital
  • Roger Goodell†, National Football League
  • Sheila Hamp, Detroit Lions
  • Oliver Luck, Private Investor
  • Kelly Mehrtens, The Trust powered by the NFL Players Association
  • 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‡, Victoria West (Tex.) High School
  • Pete Ward, Indianapolis Colts
  • Kevin Warren, Big Ten Conference
  • Rachel Worsham†, Falls Church (Va.) George C. Marshall High School

† Ex-officio member
‡ U.S. Football National Team Alumnus


USA Football is affiliated with the following sponsor-partnerships:[citation needed]

  • 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

International recognition

In May 2017, after a split that created rival groupings of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), an IFAF grouping based in Paris stripped its recognition of USA Football,[15] citing disputes over anti-doping enforcement, and recognized the United States Federation of American Football (USFAF) as the governing body of American football in the United States.[16] USFAF organized a collegiate 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,[17] and organized the 2017 Women's World Championships, which the American team won.[18]

In March 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) determined that the IFAF entity in New York was the proper governing entity and voided all decisions of the IFAF entity in Paris, including their decision to strip USA Football of its recognition.[19] USA Football is currently the internationally recognized governing body for American football in the United States.[20]

See also

  • iconAmerican football portal


  1. ^ Lage, Larry (August 15, 2019). "USA Football pilots program to attract more young players". Archived from the original on 2021-07-17. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  2. ^ "IFAF Member Federations". International Federation of American Football.
  3. ^ "United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee". USOPC Affiliate Organizations.
  4. ^ "Health & Safety". Archived from the original on 2021-06-20. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  5. ^ Kerr, Zachary Y.; Kroshus, Emily; Lee, Joseph G. L.; Yeargin, Susan W.; Dompier, Thomas P. (March 28, 2018). "Coaches' Implementation of the USA Football "Heads Up Football" Educational Program". Health Promotion Practice. 19 (2): 184–193. doi:10.1177/1524839917700398. hdl:10342/10534. ISSN 1524-8399. PMID 28351166. S2CID 3316131. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  6. ^ Basen, Ryan (2016-12-08). "CDC's Heads Up vs. Heads Up Football". MEDPAGE TODAY. Archived from the original on 2021-07-17. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  7. ^ "Nine of 10 Largest School Districts in the Country Enrolled in USA Football's Heads up Football Program for 2018". Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  8. ^ "PFATS Officially Supports USA Football's Heads Up Football Program! - PFATS News - News | PFATS". Archived from the original on 2021-07-17. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  9. ^ Schwarz, Alan (2016-07-27). "N.F.L.-Backed Youth Program Says It Reduced Concussions. The Data Disagrees". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  10. ^ "USA Football". Archived from the original on 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  11. ^ "NFL endorses USA Football's National Practice Guidelines for Youth Tackle Football". August 4, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  12. ^ Perez, A. J. "USA Football to test major changes to improve game's safety at youth level". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 2021-07-17. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
  13. ^ Samuel Teets (February 15, 2022). "GENERAL PETER W. CHIARELLI, U.S. ARMY (RET.) APPOINTED TO CHAIRMAN OF USA FOOTBALL". USA Football. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  15. ^ "Football". 3 April 2023. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  16. ^ "IFAF Accepts USFAF as Provisional Member from USA - IFAF". Archived from the original on 2017-05-16.
  17. ^ "IFAF - Articles - View - 1654". Archived from the original on 2017-07-26.
  18. ^ "IFAF - Articles - View - 1659". Archived from the original on 2017-07-26.
  19. ^ "Court of Arbitration rules against IFAF Paris, affirms Tommy Wiking resigned as President". 28 September 2017. Archived from the original on 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Nations: Americas | NATIONS | International American Football". Archived from the original on 2018-05-02.

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