New rules limit full contact during football practices in Georgia

contact_drillThe Georgia High School Association executive committee announced on Monday a flurry of changes that will be effective in the fall.

Among them was a decree to limit full contact preseason football practices to 45 minutes per day and 135 minutes per week, and regular and postseason practices to 30 minutes per day and 90 minutes per week.

In either case, teams are not allowed to practice full contact on more than two consecutive days. They are also forbidden from doing more than one session during two-a-days.

According to the guidelines, a first offense will result in a fine between $500 and $2,500 per violation “at the discretion of the Executive Director.” A second offense will place a school in probation and eliminate them from postseason play.

Last season three high school football players died in one week, while a record eight high school players died in 2013. Some died from injuries due to physical contact, while others were from the conditions with full pads, combined with drills and extreme heat.

The GHSA executive commitee also passed a proposal to allow football schools the opportunity to play 10 Mini Games in Junior Varsity Football instead of 7 regular games (combination of which shall not exceed 28 quarters for sub-varsity), as allowed currently. Each mini game will be one/half of a regular game. Four schools would meet at one site and two schools play one half, and the other two the second half. Officials would be paid the regular game fee. MOTION PASSED (unanimously)

What kinds of practice drills count as full contact?

CoachFor further explanation of what will be allowed at fall football practices, here is the language of the approved rules:

Proposal to amend By-Law 2.68 as follows: Full contact should be limited during games and practices as well as during activity outside of the traditional fall practice. When possible, an athletic trainer should be present at all practices and games. (Note: No limitation is placed on activities defined below as “AIR, BAGS or CONTROL” contact.

A. For purposes of this by-law, the following definitions shall apply: AIR – Players run a drill unopposed without contact; BAGS – Players run a drill against a bag or another soft-contact surface; CONTROL – Players run a drill at assigned speed until the moment of contact and one player is pre-determined the “winner” by the coach. Contact remains above the waist and players stay on their feet; THUD – Players run a drill at competitive speed through the moment of contact with no pre-determined “winner.” Contact remains above the waist, players stay on their feet and a quick whistle ends the drill; LIVE ACTION – Players run a drill in game-like conditions and is the only time that players are taken to the ground; FULL CONTACT – Contact which meets the definition of Live Action or Thud.

B. Pre-Season Practice: 1) Full contact shall be allowed in no more than 2 consecutive practice days per week; 2) Full contact during practice shall be limited to not more than 45 minutes per day; 3) Full contact during practice shall be limited to not more than 135 minutes per week; and 4) During any twice-daily practice, only one session per day shall include full contact.

C. Regular & Post Season Practice: 1) Full contact during practice shall be allowed in no more than three (3) practice days per week; 2) Full contact during practice shall not be allowed on more than two (2) consecutive days; 3) Full contact during practice shall be limited to not more than 30 minutes per day; 4) Full contact during practice shall be limited to not more than 90 minutes per week.

D. Written Practice Plans: A written practice plan in compliance with this by-law shall be prepared in advance by the head coach prior to every practice and maintained by the school for a period of at least twelve (12) months. Such practice plans shall be made available to the GHSA upon request.

E. Violations: The penalty to be imposed upon any member school found to have violated this by-law in any substantial manner shall be as follows: (more) Minutes – April 13, 2015 Page -5- 1) First Offense: A fine of not less than $500 nor more than $2500 per violation at the discretion of the Executive Director. 2) Second Offense: The school shall be placed on probation and shall not be eligible to participate in post season play. MOTION PASSED (unanimously) [NOTE: These limited contact rules go into effect Aug. 1, 2015.]

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