All high schools in the AHSAA have the option of spring football practice during the second semester of the year. Today coaches are using multiple options for spring practice, depending on the size of the school, preference of the coaches and often the success of their spring sports.
There was a day in Alabama that schools had 20 days of spring football practice and all of them could be in full gear. Those days from the 1970s, which typically occurred during March, are long gone. The Covid year of 2020 where no spring practice was allowed gave the state's coaches a different perspective of spring football. With each passing year, a newer generation of coaches with different ideas are changing the definition of spring football.
Here are some of the options that coaches are using today in Alabama with regards to spring football practice.
1) Old School Spring - These coaches prefer to use spring as a time to teach blocking and tackling and be in full gear as much as the rules allow. They teach the game in live scrimmages. They often play a spring game or jamboree to culminate the 10 day period. Many of the state's more experienced coaches feel that spring ball needs to be as physical as possible. They may be missing a few players involved in spring sports, but this can still be a good option for larger schools where more students play just football. There is always the chance that teams that have more contact could sustain more injuries. But many of the older coaches feel like it is worth the risk to teach the fundamentals and find out as much about the toughness of their players as possible before fall practice begins.
2) The Limited Contact Spring - A few schools are having the 10 day period, but do most of their work in shoulder pads and shorts. This option allows teams to teach the fundamentals of the game with contact, but have very limited or no full scrimmage. Players like this option and the younger ones can learn about blocking, tackling and how to practice the game of football with less of a fear factor. This method also leads to less injuries, always a concern for coaches that they might lose one of their top players in spring ball for the season. Most of these schools choose to play an intra squad scrimmage game at the end of spring ball or no game at all.
3) The Early Fall Option - Many coaches liked the organization of the Covid year after participating in it in the spring of 2020. They did no spring practice, but got the option of starting pre season drills a week early. They can still play a preseason scrimmage prior to their first varsity contest. These teams normally have summer workouts with practice sessions as well as 7 on 7 competitions, OTA work with other schools and team camps during the allowable periods. Almost all of these teams play a Week 0 scrimmage game or regular season contest. Teams lose a few days of padded work from spring practice, but with all of the options available in the summer, most believe it is a good trade off. This option causes no conflict with spring sports, where playoffs and state meets run well into the month of May.
4) The Early Fall Option Plus - With the 2 hour per week rule that coaches can work with their players in shorts on skills, some coaches are utilizing that during April and May in the place of a spring practice. Some of their players do not play other sports so they can get some early work in before summer. As other spring sport athletes get through with their seasons, they can participate during the last half of April or May. It gives teams a little jump on their summer practice sessions and can be helpful for younger players to start learning the skills of the game. These teams can still use the "start a week early" option as these skill development sessions are not considered spring practice.
But most of all, coaches seem to love having options to do what is best for their players and program.