Mountain Brook man invents gadget that trains football players to use proper tackling technique

Local News

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — A Mountain Brook resident and Birmingham-based lawyer invented a tool that encourages football players to use proper tackling technique – keeping the head up.

It’s one of the great risks of playing football. 

Head and neck injuries – the Journal of Athletic Training found head position during contact is the primary cause of spinal cord injuries.

Mountain Brook Resident and Birmingham-based lawyer Ken Thompson saw a way to help. He grew up playing football.

“I can remember my coach yelling at me to keep my head up during drills. I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about,” Thompson said.

He’s making that lesson easier for youth football players now with the H.U.T. strap. H.U.T. being an acronym for Heads Up Training

“It doesn’t come naturally to a player to keep his head up. His instinct is to lower his head,” he said.

It’s a two-part strap that attaches to the back of both the helmet and the shoulder pads. If a player puts their head down too low, in an injury-prone position, the velcro detaches – that tells the coach it’s time to review form.

Diagram of the H,U.T. Strap. Photo courtesy of H.U.T.

”We put them on our lineman and use them in their individual drills,” Coach for Mountain Brook High School Football, Tony Johnson said. “So, that gave us another tool so they look through their eyes and keep their head up.”

Thompson has lived in Mountain Brook for years, so he’s become a fan of Spartan Football. He’s working with the team’s coaches like Coach Johnson and now has the team’s linemen and backs using the training strap during practice.

“It does help,” Johnson said. “It’s something they know it’s there. You know how it is, when you get to doing something, it’s a muscle memory. That’s what we’re trying to create.

Now, multiple high schools in Alabama and Texas use it.. Thompson got the H.U.T. Strap patented back in June and will hold the patent for 20 years.

A screenshot from an instructional video from Ken Thompson.

Now he’s working with various coaches associations to give them the heads up that this strap can help their players avoid one of the most dangerous aspects of the game.

“If it keeps one kid from getting hurt, it will have been worth it.” 


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