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Alvin Briggs Reminds Coaches of Heat Issues, Practice Guidelines

AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs emailed principals and coaches on Monday with heat and practice protocols for the beginning of practice for the 2021 fall season. Below is a copy of the letter if you have not read it.

Protect your coaches, your players, your school and yourself by knowing the practice guidelines and following them. Be prepared for extreme heat and give plenty of water breaks. If the humidity is high, adjust practice between periods of intensity with walk throughs, play blocking, etc. Heat indexes are expected to hit triple digits this week in parts of the state.

TO: Principals, Athletic Directors, Head Football, Volleyball, and Cross-Country Coaches

FR: Alvin Briggs, Executive Director

Date: July 26, 2021

RE: First Day of Fall Practice (July 26 or August 2) and Heat Illness

Remember: Alabama is a “Cool First” state.

Whether you are beginning fall practice today or next Monday, please remember to include heat timeouts and water breaks in your daily practice agendas. Because of the severe heat and humidity Alabama experiences this time of year, athlete safety is the most important drill you can practice.

Dr. James Robinson, Chair of the AHSAA Medical Advisory Board, encourages our member schools to prepare for extreme heat indexes during fall practices. As you prepare, please view this important “how to” video prepared by Douglas Casa, Ph.D., CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute and Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and shared by the NCAA Sports Science Institute concerning evaluating and recognizing signs of “Preventing and Treating Exertional Heat Stroke.”

The video instructs both coaching staffs and medical personnel about recognizing early signs of heat illness and the actions that should be taken in such circumstances. The video also reviews strategies, such as heat acclimatization and hydration strategies, for the prevention of exertional heat stroke.

Because heat indexes will reach triple digits this week, and advisories are posted across the state, we advise all schools and sport venues to review and practice their emergency action plans (EAP) and be prepared should an emergency arise at their school. Remember, Alabama is a “Cool First” state! Cool before transporting. It could save a life!

You may also find Dr. Robinson’s medical advisory presentation at AHSAA.COM under the Summer Conference Presentations 2021 tab. Dr. Robinson’s presentation contains several slides that deal directly with heat illness. Please take a few minutes to review and share those slides with your staff.

I urge you to monitor your athletes closely during practices, keep them hydrated, and remain aware of the symptoms of heat illness.

Also, in the sport of football, the Fall Practice Guidelines must be followed no matter when a team starts. Additionally, any individual who comes out late must follow the same practice guidelines, and all students must have a minimum 13-days of practice before participating in a contest.

AHSAA Regulations: During the regular season, including championship play, and the allowed 10-day spring evaluation period, AHSAA member schools must restrict the amount of full-speed contact practice. These guidelines are intended to limit the amount of full-speed contact football practice. These guidelines are intended to limit the amount of full-speed contact and not to limit the number of practices in full pads.

Week 1 - In accordance with the AHSAA Fall Football Practice Rule (Rule III, Section 18,), only shorts and helmets are allowed the first two days of fall football practice. Shoulder pads and helmets are allowed on the third practice day for a period not to exceed 90 minutes of total practice time and not exceed 120 (2 hours) minutes on the fourth day. On the fifth practice day, one full-speed contact practice, in full gear, is allowed not to exceed 90 minutes.

Week 2 - Alternating days of full-speed contact practice, not to exceed a combined total of 120 minutes of full-speed contact is allowed. In addition, one intra-squad scrimmage is allowed in week 2.

Week 3 - Alternating days of full-speed contact practice, not to exceed a combined total of 120 minutes of full contact is allowed. One interscholastic scrimmage or contest is allowed in week 3

Week 4 through End of Season - A total of 90 minutes of full-speed contact practice per week is allowed.

I want to wish you the best of luck this school year and fall season. If you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to contact our office.


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