High school football practice begins Monday
The hands-off “dead period” for prep sports is nearly over and soon the sound of clashing pads and helmets will ring throughout football fields across the state. But this year the noise will resonate a little differently.
Area schools begin football practice Monday. (Aug. 10)
Back in June the IHSA made a pair of key changes to the way football teams will be allowed to practice during the season in a move that most fans might have overlooked.
The first change restricts traditional “two-a-day” preseason practices such that only one of the practices may be full live contact. The second change dictates that teams will be allowed three full contact practices during the regular season with a total of 90 minutes of full contact allotted across the three days.
This mandated decrease in activity was enacted as an attempt to curb the rate of injuries in the sport, specifically concussions. The policies are based on the idea brain trauma is not simply caused by one significant hit to the head, but in many cases by repeated smaller incidences that add up over time. Cut down the number of possible chances for injury, lower the possibility of long term damage. The new rule matches that of the NCAA and is actually less restrictive than that of the Big 12 (limited full contact practices to just two days a week).
As with any rule change there are possible repercussions. In this case the counter argument would be that restricting contact in practice weakens the ability of the coaching staff to instill the muscle memory of proper tackling/blocking technique. What’s the point of reducing the overall number of contact plays if within that smaller number the chance of a severe injury increases because players don’t know how to properly tackle?
The answer, and the reason why the policy is worthwhile, is because these changes are at least trying to look at the problem differently.