A rule change instituted this spring by the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors is causing local football coaches to rethink the way they are running their preseason practices.
The key changes include limiting the amount of time players practice per day and per week during what is known as the “heat acclimatization period,” as well as mandating rest time between practices.
“The biggest concern I have with the changes is that we are being asked to have our players ready both physically and mentally to play a game in 14 days with less practice time as in the past,” said Columbia High School head football coach Scott Horner.
The new rules limit practice the first week to three hours and require a two-hour rest between practice and a walk-through. Second week practices can alternate between three hours a day and five hours a day, with a two-hour rest required after the first three hours of practice.Columbia football coach Scott Horner, at center, addresses players during the first day of fall sports practices, Aug. 14.
“We will have to practice more efficiently,” said Waterloo High School head football coach Dan Rose. “We now have to fit six-plus hours into three hours plus a one-hour walk -through which does not allow a football to be used during the walk-through or any substitute for a football.”
Many teams, including Waterloo, have been paring down practices gradually for the past few years due to the extreme heat the region has experienced.
But coaches have expressed worries that the shorter practice time will be setting players up for injuries.
“I am extremely concerned that players from all schools will be less prepared, potentially causing more injuries,” Horner said. “The last thing you want on the football field is a tired and confused player. That’s when injuries occur.”
Both coaches said they support the idea of the new rules.
“We simply have to be efficient with planning and scheduling,” Rose said.
Regular season football kicks off Aug. 30, when Waterloo takes on Herrin at home, and Columbia hosts East Alton – Wood River.