Jan 29, 2015
ACSM Recommends Preseason Football Changes

With hopes of reducing heat-related illness and death among football players, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released guidelines for youth and high school preseason practices.

The most prominent recommendation is to prohibit two-a-day practices during the first week of preseason. According to the ACSM, “the overwhelming majority of serious heat illnesses occur in the first four days of preseason football practice (especially on the first and second days), when players are not acclimatized to the heat, the intensity/duration of practice, or the uniform.”

Similar to those adopted by the NCAA two seasons ago, the guidelines also:

  • Restrict multiple workouts on consecutive days.
  • Limit single practices to no more than three hours, including conditioning drills.
  • Limit practice time for multiple sessions to no more than five hours a day.
  • Require a minimum of three hours between sessions.
  • Prohibit wearing full uniforms and pads, which can increase heat risk, until day six.
  • Prohibit full contact until week two.

Jerry Diehl, Assistant Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and liaison to the organization’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, says that heat illness is a point of concern for his group. Along with re-evaluating its current guidelines on this topic, which do not include any language pertaining to two-a-day practices or session length, Diehl says the NFHS will examine the ACSM’s recommendations.

The ACSM guidelines are from an ACSM roundtable series called Youth Football: Heat Stress and Injury Risk. Copies of the report can be obtained by e-mailing the ACSM Communications and Public Information department at: [email protected].

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