Gulf Shores outfitting football team with high-tech helmets

 

With a new high school football season comes new technology for one Baldwin County high school. The Gulf Shores Dolphins varsity players will be wearing new, high-tech helmets that will monitor blows to the head in real time.

Dolphins Head Coach, Matt Blake is putting an emphasis on making the game of football safer for his players. High-tech helmets like the Riddell In-Site Technology helmet are showing up more and more in youth sports. Each helmet costs $470 dollars. The school has ordered 44 of them with a total price tag of $17,000. The helmets aren’t cheap, but Blake said the community rallied around the idea to make it happen.

“We had no idea that it would be the kind of support we got,” Blake said. “We were able to raise just over seventeen thousand dollars in just under three weeks.”

The way the helmet works is through electronic sensors that run the entire span of the helmet from front to back and then side to side, intersecting on the crown. Every hit, no matter the severity is registered and sent in real-time to a monitor in a trainer’s hand. Because each helmet is registered to a specific player, anytime a concern comes up, the trainer will know what player to go to.

Any hit registering less than 60 pounds per square (psi) inch is considered in the green zone. From 60 to 80 psi will send a yellow alert and anything above 80 psi is considered red and that player will be removed from any contact until concussion protocol is followed.

While the helmets will play a vital role in notifying the staff when action should be taken right away, Coach Blake said the technology will also be a vital teaching tool.

“I have a lineman who 60, 70, 80 percent of their hits for the day are happening on the top crown of the helmet, then I know their technique is bad and so that allows us as coaches to evaluate that and know that the very next day, we go out to practice, we’ve got to spend some extra time with that specific kid on the techniques on how to take the head out of the game,” Blake explained.

Blake said Gulf Shore will be one of only a few schools in the state that will start the season using the In-Site helmets. His goal is to eventually outfit all age groups in the city with these helmets.

“It was very important to me for us to be on the front end of this new technology and to show the parents in the community that safety is and always will be our number one goal,” Blake said.

In the limited full-contact practices the Dolphins have had so far, Coach Blake said the technology is showing fewer severe hits than he expected to see. Gulf Shores has its first game against Satsuma Friday, August 24, 2018.

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