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New CIF rule will limit practice time

Posted: May 31, 2014 5:01 p.m.
Updated: May 31, 2014 5:01 p.m.

New rules issued by CIF State will limit practice time across the board for high school athletics, but local coaches don’t expect much of an impact going forward.

CIF Bylaw 506, issued May 2 and taking effect on July 1, will limit practice hours to 18 per week for all sports except golf, in which four practice hours can be substituted by an 18-hole practice round.

These rounds can be played twice per week.

No sports team will be allowed more than four practice hours per day, with competition days counting as a mandatory three hours toward the maximum counts.

No practice can be held following the conclusion of an athletic contest.

“Ultimately, we go Monday through Saturday which is general for every football program locally or maybe California wide,” said Canyon head football coach Rich Guitierrez. “Saturdays are generally based on film or lifting or weights. Last year we did yoga and if you put in three or four hours on a Saturday you’re talking about 18 hours also counting the games. So they count as a three-hour game, so really it’s 15 hours over five days.”

The definition of practice is broad, too.

Practice includes any school or team or individual activity organized by the coach intended to maintain or improve a student-athlete’s skill proficiency in a sport.

This includes skill drills, game situation drills, intrasquad scrimmages or games, weight training, chalk talks, film review, meetings outside of school time that are implicitly or explicitly required by the coach.

According to the bylaw the changes were made “For the benefit of the physical and mental health of our student-athletes.”

“I think safety is always a concern,” Gutierrez said. “It’s something even in my tenure when it comes to the kids you have to protect them. I’m a parent and teacher first, so outside of that you’re trying to take a look at the whole scope. What’s beneficial for the player. Absolutely I think (18 hours) is more than enough time (to prepare the kids).”

According to the CIF, violations of Bylaw 506 can results in “a loss of practice day(s) and/or other sanctions, for each practice session infraction, shall be imposed by the section as deemed appropriate to the level, extent and duration of the infraction(s).

The CIF issued a special memo on Friday to clarify practice rules specifically for football.

The same 18-hour maximum practice rule will apply to football, which will continue to follow the existing Blue Book rule 1903.1 to determine the start date of fall practice.

According to that rule, teams are allowed 25 practice opportunities.

Bylaw 506 would then take effect with the start of fall practice, with schools barred from holding twice-a-day practices on consecutive days and mandating a three-hour break between sessions.

There are a few exceptions, though.

Any activity that takes place during the school day, for example weight lifting or film during the final class period, would not count toward the 18-hour limit under the new bylaw.

There could also be more restrictions on the way which will affect football directly.

The California Assembly voted on May 15 in favor of a bill that would limit full-contact practices to a maximum of twice a week during the regular season.

The proposed bill, which still needs to pass through the state Senate and be signed by the governor to become law, defines full-contact as “a practice where drills or live action is conducted that involves collisions at game speed, where players execute tackles and other activity that is typical of an actual tackle football game.”

Hart High head football coach Mike Herrington, in his 26th year guiding the program, says matters like this should be left up to the coaches.

“We’re professionals,” Herrington said of the proposed bill. “We know what’s going on. ... I just think there’s too many rules and 99 percent of the high school coaches know the limits are needed.”

The CIF also clarified rules for multisport athletes, indicating that if their sports overlap, such as girls volleyball and basketball might, the individual athlete would still be subjected to a maximum of four practice hours per day and 18 per week.

The loss of practice hours, though, doesn’t seem to be a big concern.

“I don’t think it will have a negative impact,” said Saugus softball head coach Julie Watson-Archer. “Most schools don’t practice more than three hours in a day. Eighteen hours per week is enough time to prepare the girls during the high school season. Plus, a majority of the players are also involved with travel ball, where they put in extra work on their own.”


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