All about the UIL Texas Certification announcement, as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Texas High School Football Mandates Tackling Certification for All High School Coaches

Texas High School Coaches Association and the University Interscholastic League select Atavus Sports to lead the first-of-its-kind statewide tackling certification.

AUSTIN, TX — March 20, 2018 — The University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) have worked collaboratively to take an unprecedented step forward towards making football a safer sport. In October 2017, the UIL Legislative Council passed a rule that will require every high school and junior high school football coach in the state of Texas to become certified in the best practices in teaching tackling as a part of the required official UIL Coaches Certification Program beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

With this new measure, UIL has made Texas the first in the country to implement a mandatory statewide tackling certification program for all football coaches. In a joint effort between UIL and THSCA to raise standards and improve safety, Atavus Sports, a Seattle-based organization focused on tackling techniques and tackle data analytics, was selected as the exclusive provider to oversee and administer the certification process statewide. The primary objective of this collaboration is to enhance Texas High School football by providing ‘best practices’ in tackling training for all football coaches and keeping the athletes that play the game safer.

“The UIL Legislative Council was overwhelming in favor of supporting this measure,” said Dr. Charles Breithaupt, Executive Director of the University Interscholastic League. “We view the addition of a mandatory tackling certification for football coaches as a positive educational extension that will ultimately improve the game and the welfare of our students.”

“The game is changing, and we have to be willing to change with it,” said D.W. Rutledge, Executive Director of the Texas High School Coaches Association. “By implementing a mandatory tackling certification, we’re continuing our legacy in Texas as leaders in high school football and taking the necessary steps to move the game forward. Preventing injuries is paramount for all coaches and players, and we felt that as an organization it was our duty to seek out the best possible solutions to keeping our players safe.”

The certification process for coaches begins in July 2018 and will be available in two formats. The first option is a variety of on-site training offered by THSCA, consisting of a presentation followed by a live assessment which must be passed to receive certification. The second option, available beginning April 1, 2019 is an online platform, which allows coaches to achieve certification at their own pace but consists of a similar educational presentation and final assessment.

“Being from Texas and a former football coach in the state, this means a lot to me,” said Rex Norris, Head of Football for Atavus Sports. “A dominant tackle is a safer tackle, and we are excited to get to work helping coaches teach tackling techniques that will benefit their players and improve their team’s performance.”

Atavus has spent the past five years educating coaches and players in all skill levels, working with elite college football programs across the country such as Michigan State University, Rutgers University, The University of Washington, Ohio State University, The University of Nebraska and more. At the high school level in Texas, Atavus has worked with a number of schools, including; Sulphur Springs, Waxahachie, Rockwall, Westbrook and Brownwood high schools, as well as a long list of other schools across the U.S.

“We know that Texas is widely regarded as the pinnacle of high school football,” said Karen Bryant, CEO of Atavus Sports. “We’re thrilled they have decided to take action and lead the way in recognizing that tackling is an important part of the game. We certainly hope that other states follow Texas’s lead and implement similar certification processes in their organizations.”

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About Atavus Sports
Headquartered in Seattle, Atavus Sports aims to provide a modern, impactful solution for coaches at professional, collegiate, high school and junior football programs to improve tackling performance. Atavus’ consulting services provide coaches on-site and remote assessment, coupled with detailed analytics and the development of specific tackle plans comprised of sequential drills backed by advanced technology.

About UIL
The University Interscholastic League was created by The University of Texas at Austin to provide leadership and guidance to public school debate and athletic teachers. Since 1910 the UIL has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. The UIL continues to operate as part of the University of Texas, under the auspices of the Vice President for Diversity & Community Engagement.

The UIL exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests. The initials UIL have come to represent quality educational competition administered by school people on an equitable basis.

The Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) is the principle advocate and leadership organization for Texas high school coaches. THSCA provides the highest quality representation, education, and services to Texas high school coaches and affiliate members, and enhances the professionalism of coaches and the schools they represent. Our mission statement is simply this: To help and serve our Texas high school coaches as they work to help and serve our student athletes. “HELPING COACHES TO HELP KIDS.”




Q: Why Atavus?
A: For the last three years, Atavus has focused solely on tackling, and through their work, they have developed a systematic approach and process to teach tackling. When we considered all our options, in order to have a lasting impact, we knew we needed to work with experts who could not only teach the technique but provide the additional resources and expertise coaches have been asking for.

Q: How is this different? What makes the Atavus technique special?
A: What separates the Atavus tackling system is that we have taken a comprehensive look at contact in and around the tackle. As a result, we have produced the best resource for educating both players and coaches, and it help programs at every level. It is not age specific and can cross over into multiple sports.

The technique focuses on making contact with the shoulder and keeping the head out of the tackle. The goal is to have controlled movement, make effective contact and to maximize both power and control.

But the Atavus System is more than just technique and drills. We have developed a system that engages the athletes through a player-centered approach and increases motor skill retention using a progression-based approach that incorporates varying levels of contact. As a result, the coaches have more confidence teaching, which increases the players confidence in execution.

Q: What is included in this certification?
A: The certification includes introducing concepts that every coach should know in order to effectively coach tackling. The initial certification will be in person. After completing and passing the certification, coaches will have access to the Atavus On-Line Training Program. The program provides a drill library and coaching resources to help reinforce the certification process and provide instruction in teaching safer and more effective tackle drills.

Q: What do coaches have to do to be certified?
A: The certification process will be available in two formats. The first and initial option is an on-site training, consisting of a presentation followed by a live assessment which must be passed to receive certification. The second option beginning in April 2019 is an online platform, which allows coaches to achieve certification at their own pace but consists of a similar educational presentation and final assessment.

Q: How long does the certification process take?
A: The certification will initially include an in-person presentation followed by an assessment that will be provided at the THSCA Coaching School starting in July. That will be replicated at other events throughout the year, including the Texas State Championships, through the THSCA F.A.S.T. Clinics. The certification will be valid for 2 years and even opportunities for an advanced certification. We are currently working out those details.

Q: If I purchase the Online Training Program and watch it, am I certified?
A: No. Whether coaches choose the on-site training or online version, in addition to the presentation, coaches must pass an assessment in order to receive certification.