Lake Zurich Flames: Safety and Player Development
The safety of our athletes is the utmost concern of the Lake Zurich Flames. For this reason, we have a multi-level approach to ensure that the game is as safe as possible for all. It starts with our coaches. All Flames coaches must be certified every year by USA Football before they step foot on the field. Through this certification, coaches are instructed on and must pass exams in multiple areas, including:
-proper tackling and blocking techniques
-proper equipment fitting
-heat and hydration
Our practice planning also demonstrates our commitment to safety. The season starts with a mandatory conditioning and acclimatization process, to ensure the kids are prepared for full equipment in the summer heat. As we progress, the vast majority of practice time is spent in non-contact drills, many used by pro and college teams, emphasizing the safest techniques. Most important of these is shoulder tackling, which removes the helmet from contact during a tackle, reducing the risk of head injury. Frequent water breaks are mandated to reduce the risk of dehydration, muscle cramps, and other heat-related conditions.
The Flames are dedicated to concussion prevention and awareness. Our athletes participate in pre-season baseline ImPACT concussion testing, a set of neurocognitive tests that measures visual and verbal memory, reaction time, and processing speed on a computer, and can be used to guide treatment and safe return to play in the event of a concussion. We have partnered with sports neurologist, Dr. Erik Beltran, to speak at our town hall meetings and provide his professional insights into concussion prevention and management. Certified athletic trainers are present at all games. They have the ultimate authority to remove a player from competition, in order to expedite injury treatment and avoid premature return to play.