Doubles. Hell week. Part of the journey. Two-a-day sessions. It’s high school football, it’s supposed to be tough.
What was once a right of passage, separating the strong from the weak and distinguishing the studs from mere mortals, the end of two-a-day practice sessions is coming to your hometown.
Coaches and players have long been creatures of habit, especially in football. Circling the date on the calendar of the first practice, working through the summer in anticipation of reaching that date. And then, for the players at least, marking the days off one by one until they reach the final doubles session. Hallelujah!
Double sessions are grueling. Taking place in the late summer heat and humidity is part of what makes the sessions tough. Ironically, in the northern/midwestern states, football runs the gamut of weather and seasonal changes. Beginning in August with the high, hot sun and longer daylight hours that slowly taper into cool, crisp fall Friday nights followed by shorter, cold and often rainy days near the end of the season. That’s a full closet full of clothing changes in one season!
All of that is about to change sooner than you may believe.
Several state high school associations have made changes to their policies this year regarding double sessions in football, mostly to limit back to back days of doubles and some to eliminate doubles completely. Alabama, Texas, Florida and Georgia implemented changes this year that barred back to back double sessions. New Jersey, Connecticut, Arizona and Arkansas had previously taken similar action. In 2003, the NCAA began prohibiting back to back double sessions and this year’s NFL CBA barred double sessions completely.
In a blog post from the Michigan High School Athletic Association earlier today, director Jack Roberts indicated changes are in store for Michigan high school football programs:” As we have been considering changes for in-season football practice rules that are more in step with recent recommendations of the National Athletic Trainers Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Federation of State High School Associations, as well as the actions of several of our counterpart state organizations across the U.S., we have also been looking at the rules that apply out of season to assure they do not work against the preparation of students for a safe experience.”
Why are these changes necessary? Coaches feel the extra time spent on the field is essential to properly teach the game of football. Traditionalists feel two-a-days are meaningful, tough for a reason, it’s a tough sport. Yes, it is a tough sport – one that is being called into question each day now, mostly because of concussions.
Why? It’s about performance, safety and the well-being of student-athletes. In our previous post on heat illness prevention, heat related deaths are preventable (safety). Double sessions, even those that take place early or late in the day, expose the athletes to high temps and humidity. During the calendar period of double sessions, in order for an athlete’s body to recover, refuel, replenish and rehydrate properly, the main ingredient is rest. A good night’s sleep. Proper nutrition. Rest. (performance). That’s why.
While today we are already into week #2 on the schedule, double sessions are over for this season. And maybe over for good. Stay tuned!