Football teams across the state were able to officially begin preseason practice last week, but they weren’t able to put on the pads and start hitting right away.
The Georgia High School Association approved new practice guidelines in March designed to help alleviate heat-related issues.
As part of the GHSA’s practice policy for heat and humidity, teams must hold five days of non-contact practices before putting the pads on.
Teams must also take mandated rest breaks related to wet-bulb temperature readings, and if gets hot enough, teams can’t practice outside.
There are a number of other regulations teams must follow as mandated by the policy.
Last year, the local teams had to go inside on several occasions in August because of the heat guidelines.
The heat policy remains in effect until a team plays its first regular-season game.
While the policy can create an inconvenience at times, especially when a team has to take its practice indoors, Troup head coach Lynn Kendall he understands what the GHSA is trying to do.
“In the big picture, it’s for the safety of the kids,” Kendall said. “I know the state has done a lot to keep everybody on the same sheet of music as far as what the guidelines are, what you have to do in certain temperatures, how you can treat that. It’s for the best.”
The GHSA has also banned three-a-day preseason practices, and two-a-day practices can’t be held on consecutive days, and there’s a time limit of five hours of practice in one day.
The GHSA instituted the new guidelines after a three-year study done by the University of Georgia.
Kendall said that, since teams do so much more during the summer now than they used to, that having less practice time in August isn’t that big a deal.
“Whether it’s a seven-or-seven, or one of the linemen competition, or whether it’s one of the camps going on, you’re still getting some of that work,” Kendall said. “There was a lot less of that back when we were doing those two a days or three a days practices. In the end, it all balances out.”
Troup and Callaway are planning on holding their first full-contact practices on Wednesday, and LaGrange will hold its first full-contact practice on Thursday.
Callaway kicked off preseason practice last week after wrapping up its third annual youth football camp, which head coach Pete Wiggins said was a huge success.
“The camp went really well,” Wiggins said. “We had several of our varsity players that came out and helped us work it, and I think they had as much as the kids who participated in it.”
LaGrange, meanwhile, will wrap up its ironman competition today before getting practice started.
After a busy summer, LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said everyone is ready to go.
“They’re upbeat, they’re ready,” Branch said.