The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Addressing the Issue?

  • IHSA's new Policy 13 has coaches seeing positives and negatives
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  • Change can be perceived as a struggle.
    If you're a high school football coach in southern Illinois, this particular change could determine what side of the fence you stand on.
    On Wednesday, the Illinois High School Athletic Association approved changes to IHSA Policy 13, which governs the regulations for safety and heat acclimatization for preseason football practices.
    Key items in the policy include daily and weekly practice time limits for players during the acclimatization period, as well as required durations of rest between practices. The policy also provides coaches with a day-by-day itinerary that outlines the practice limits and equipment allowed on each practice date, starting with the first day of practice.
    "I think that they have the players best interest at heart," Eldorado head coach Brandon Hampton said. "I can respect that. You have to be super sensitive when it comes to heat and anyone that lives or has lived in southern Illinois knows how hot it can get around July or August."
    For Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper the concept of "acclimatization" is being missed.
    "I don't think its necessarily the time that's an issue," Roper said. "I don't know if that's going to fix the problem. The problem is the heat, the time of day people practice and what I choose to do in that time frame.
    "It may be (100) degrees outside and coaches could have their kids taking repeated reps without proper rest. That's not very good for the kids and it's not a good idea on the coaches part. But because of the new policy and the time frame they are given, coaches could do that, if they wanted too."
    Roper attributed a policy followed by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in regards to the heat index, where before you practice you must use a digital thermometer to see what the heat index is. If it's above 100 degrees, teams are not allowed to practice until the heat index reaches a temperature below 98 degrees.
    Under the new policy, during the first five days of practice for each player, athletes may not participate in more than three hours of practice per day, which starts on August 14 and runs through August 19.
    A one hour maximum walk-through is permitted during the first five days of practice; however a minimum two hour recovery period should be inserted between the practices and walk-through.
    The first two days of those practices are helmets only, followed by three days of helmets and shoulder pads.
    Starting on Aug. 20, teams are allowed to wear full pads for the next eight weeks until the end of the acclimatization period.
    "Heat is and will always be an issue in southern Illinois," Roper said. One nice thing is, it puts everyone on the same schedule and same time frame to get everyone ready."
    Page 2 of 3 - While both Hampton and Roper will attest to the fact that you can go with full pads for 25 days prior to the start of the first official start of football practice, the acclimatization then becomes something that players and coaches will have to get used to.
    "In my opinion, the biggest thing this policy does is it makes your first five practices different," Hampton said. "We'll have just come off wearing full pads in football camp and then go back to wearing just a helmet, then helmet and pads for three days, before being able to go back to full pads."
    The revamped policy came from a joint recommendation between the IHSA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Football Advisory Committee. The two groups collaborated on the proposal at a meeting on April 17, which included presentations by representatives from the Korey Stringer Institute and the Sports Legacy Institute. A draft of the proposal was provided to the IHSA Board of Directors, who asked that it be made available to IHSA football coaches and athletic directors for feedback, before reconvening and adopting the policy.
    Some have said that the new policy will undoubtedly change the way coaches approach preseason practice, in regards to getting more creative when and how they schedule practices, as well as, what they do with their time.
    Hampton sits on the other side of the fence and doesn't see much of an effect.
    "As far as the actual start of camp, we are real careful what we do. We rarely go below the waist to tackle and being a school our size, if we lose one player, we really lose two," Hampton said.
    "Yeah, it forces you to organize, and it might even be considered 'silly', but it's better than its been."
    Leading up to the official start of practice with the summer weight program and OTA's are where Hampton said a lot of he wants to accomplish in August takes shape.
    "Our kids do a good job of getting themselves ready for August camp," Hampton added. "It's not like we have kids stumble out of the house and say 'Oh hey, I want to play football.' We're in the weight room, working on properly hydrating ourselves and getting ready. They better shape we're in, they better we can compete."
    Michael Dann can be reached
    at mdann@dailyregister
    Twitter: @spydieshooter
    Harrisburg Football Schedule
    Monday, June 3 — Summer Weight Program starts
    Monday, June 3-13 — Organized Team Activities starts
    Monday, July 15-Aug 1 — Organized Team Activities starts
    Wednesday, August 14 — First official start of camp
    Friday, August 30 — Season Opener at Mt. Carmel
    Eldorado Football Schedule
    Monday, June 3 — Summer Weight Program starts
    Page 3 of 3 - Monday, July 15-31 — Organized Team Activities starts
    Wednesday, August 14 — First official start of camp
    Friday, August 30 — Season Opener at Sesser-Vailer
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