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New FHSAA rules change little for Brevard County teams

Area coaches have no issues with new regulations

1:00 AM, Aug. 08, 2012 EDT

To the fans who will fill Palm Bay High's stadium at home football games each season, they go unnoticed.

On hot days in August, the water spouts built into the southeast corner of the facility make all the difference. The spouts run non-stop during practices, giving players the opportunity to get a drink whenever needed.

As of this week, FHSAA rules require that kind of unimpeded access to water, and frequent rest breaks -- at least during the first 14 days -- are also mandatory. Specifically, players must get a five-minute break for every 30 minutes of continuous practice. The limit for each week's cumulative practice time is 18 hours.

Additionally, only one practice is allowed during the first six days. That caused reports of weather problems in some parts of the state on Monday, the first official day of practice. Wet and stormy weather meant teams whose practices were interrupted were in danger of losing a whole day of work rather than just one of two sessions.

Locally, teams haven't held two-a-day practices for years because of early starts to classes. Two sessions would be difficult beginning today as public schools open for business.

"We didn't have much of two-a-days anyway," said Merritt Island head coach Jeff McLean on Tuesday. "One thing I heard is kids you want to do extra conditioning -- being in the morning to get running out of the way -- you can't do that through the first week. That's two practices."

What McLean referred to as "breakfast clubs" will have to wait.

Space Coast coach Kevin Freeman echoed that not much has changed. He said his program already did everything the new rules require before they were implemented. Nothing is new other than some paperwork for players to sign regarding heat acclimation and concussions.

Freeman and the Vipers did run into weather problems on Tuesday. About 75 minutes into practice, stormy weather approached and set off the school's lightning alarm. That sent the team inside.

"We're good, because we'll go spend time in the gym for some chalk talk," he said. "We'll get our work in."

The new FHSAA legislation applies only to the first two weeks of practices. The association has encouraged each school district to adopt rules for practice time for the remainder of each season.




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