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IHSA's new practice rules impact local football teams

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 3:30 p.m. CDT
(File photo by Matthew Piechalak – mpiechalak@shawmedia.com)
Morton senior quarterback Emilio Engle works on his throwing motion during a practice at Morton West earlier this summer. Football teams are now subject to new practice guidelines put in place by the IHSA.
New football practice guidelines through August 27
• Aug. 14-15: 3 hour limit, helmet only
• Aug. 16-17: 3 hour limit, helmet and shoulder pads
• Aug. 19: 3 hour limit, helmet and shoulder pads
• Aug. 20: 5 hour limit, full pads
• Aug. 21: 3 hour limit, full pads
• Aug. 22: 5 hour limit, full pads
• Aug. 23: 3 hour limit, full pads
• Aug. 24: 5 hour limit, full pads
• Aug. 26: 5 hour limit, full pads
• Aug. 27: 3 hour limit, full pads
• A one hour walk-through is also allowed each day
• There must be two hours of rest between all practices/walk-throughs
• No single practice can exceed three hours
• Teams are not allowed to practice Sundays during the preseason

Fall sports officially can begin practicing on August 14, but on that date things will be slightly different for high school football teams.

The IHSA tinkered with the rules for the first couple weeks of fall practices, but the changes aren't impacting each team and coaching staff the same way.

The limited hours, which were created in part to avoid health issues in the August heat, aren't a massive change for most teams. However, with just three hours to practice it creates a need to be more efficient with that time.

Lyons Township is barely affected by the alteration due to the fact that school hours start on Thursday with two administration days. That means the Lions only have one day of shortened preseason practices. Riverside Brookfield starts school on the same day as practice begins, but RB coach Brendan Curtin was still in favor of the changes for the most part.

“Any coach needs to make sure we’re putting safety first," Curtin said. "It's a step in the right direction. The system is definitely better in the sense that we're putting some requirements on how long we can go.”

Other nearby schools don't have the same school calendar so they will have more of the altered practices. Morton starts school on August 26 and Nazareth starts August 19.

“I think most people follow a similar kind of schedule anyway,” said LT coach Kurt Weinberg. “If they want to make it similar across the board it’s not a terrible thing.”

Weinberg said the biggest difference for his schedule is that two-a-day practices now require a longer gap in between practice. This has more of an impact on the younger levels, where kids don't have the ability to drive and leave campus for that time.

"That’s tough with those lower levels that don’t have the opportunity to leave or drive," Weinberg said. "So now you have this big chunk of time without the mobility and having the ability to leave.”

The next step in the changes will likely relate to summer practices. Both Curtin and Weinberg assumed summer workouts will be regulated, but they weren't sure how yet. This could possibly mean the end of the summer getaway trips where teams head to local colleges for camps.

“There’s really no official policy in terms of our summer practices," Weinberg said. "We follow the same schedule in the summer, but some people do whatever they want."

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