When the high school football regular season begins in two weeks, teams across Indiana will be limited to two days of full-contact practice per week.
The new rule likely won’t lead to big changes at Columbus East and Columbus North. Coaches at both schools already have been observing that practice the past few years.
“Realistically, it doesn’t change how we’re going to operate a whole lot,” North coach Tim Bless said. “Mondays and Thursdays, we’ll continue to major in the mental aspect of it, and Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll major in the physical aspects.”
The new rule put in place by the IHSAA calls for only two days of “live” contact, which is considered Level 5, per week. After that, nothing is allowed above Level 3, which only allows players to put their hands on each other.
At East, coach Bob Gaddis uses only Level 4 contact, which involves “thud” contact without taking players to the ground on a tackle, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“It’s all for safety,” Gaddis said. “We want our coaches to be aware of how much contact players are having during the week.”
As executive director of the Indiana Football Coaches Association, Gaddis helped author the rule initiative. He said practices likely will change for most Indiana schools on Thursdays because they can’t put on shoulder pads and helmets and have “thud” contact.
Gaddis said some states are limiting the amount of minutes or repetitions of contact that teams can have. The IFCA and IHSAA settled on the two days of contact.
“If you look all around the country, there’s different ways people are addressing the amount of contact you can have,” Gaddis said. “I think you’re going to see a change around the state. We hope it limits the number of times that kids have contact. ”
Game action does not count toward the two days of contact, so players who play in junior varsity games on Mondays or Saturdays can still participate in contact two other days each week.
Bless said North had been doing “thud” tempo in pro pads (helmets and shoulder pads) on Mondays, but won’t be able to do that anymore. But he said that isn’t a big deal, considering the amount of practice teams can now get in during the summer months.
“The intent of the rule is great,” Bless said. “Safety in football is something that our game has paid great attention to over the last few years to make the greatest game every made safer. So we buy into these new rules wholeheartedly.”
The IHSAA has passed a rule limiting football teams to two days of Level 5 contact per week. After that, no contact above Level 3 is permitted. Here are the Levels:
Level 5: Live contact, including tackling
Level 4: “Thud” contact without taking players to the ground
Level 3: Players can only put ther hands on each other
Level 2: Controlled contact
Level 1: No contact