AUSTIN - Football practice started Monday for several high school teams.
But it's a new era. There are no two-a-day workouts for the first four days.
Starting this year, the University Interscholastic League , which governs state high school sports in Texas, has implemented an acclimatization period for its football players. The new rule prohibits two-a-day practices for the first four days, and then limits them to every other day after that.
"Two-a-days on one day and then the next day you can only have one practice, gives a little relief to the heat and gives a chance for hydration to take affect," said UIL executive director Dr. Charles Breithaupt.
The National Federation of State High Schools Association says exertional heat stroke is the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletics and leads to thousands of hospitalizations each year. Teams like Wimberley and LBJ work out early in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.
"We're going to miss a couple practices," said LBJ head football coach Keith Willis. "But, really it's probably the best thing for everybody to ensure the integrity and safety of our children."
Hydration is a top priority as well. Water breaks, which were a privilege for older generation players, are now mandatory components of practice. Teams like Wimberley work out early in the morning because of cooler temperatures.
"Old school when I was raised, you didn't get water, you got a handful of ice," said Wimberley head football coach Weldon Nelms jokingly. "You have to make these kids tough, but you have to be smart, too."
The UIL has posted a guide to heat acclimatization and heat illness prevention on their website. Teams are allowed one full practice and one walk-through the first four days. Also, when two-a-day practices begin, players must have two hours of rest time between work outs. Class 5A and 4A teams that practiced in the Spring can start fall workouts on Aug. 13.
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