SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Two-a-day practices for college football players are now a thing of the past.
Last month, officials with all three NCAA divisions voted to get rid of the traditional preseason practice, citing safety concerns.
It’s a move aligning the divisions with a new health and safety recommendation endorsed by the NCAA Sports and Science Institute.
Every coach wants their players to keep their heads in the game. While the metaphor is about focus, this can pose a literal danger for players.
There has been a movement over the past several years to reduce and prevent concussions for football players and this new rule is yet another attempt to do that.
“We're going to have to make some adjustments,” USF head football coach Jon Anderson said.
The coaching staff at University of Sioux Falls is working quickly to prepare for a whole new kind of practice schedule. Instead of having two-a-day practices every other day, they will now be limited to just one practice a day.
“Just being smart with our time,” Anderson said.
One concern is making sure players have enough time to get in shape for the season.
“We have a certain amount of days and a certain amount of practices to get our football team together to play, which I think there's health issues in that as well from a conditioning stand point,” Anderson explained.
While coaches are working to figure out how to tackle this major practice schedule change, doctors say this move could benefit players in the long run when it comes to head injuries.
“This is probably more important towards head trauma and brain injury. We know if you have a concussion that if you exert yourself too soon before that injury has healed then it make the concussion worse. So, this recommendation is really geared toward the potential of athletes having undiagnosed concussions,” Dr. Thayne Munce with Sanford Sports Science Institute said.
Coach Anderson says preventing concussions is a top priority.
The team has been using angel guards for several years.
“Just an extra precaution and they fit right over the top of the helmets, there's Velcro involved in it and a very easy thing for us to switch on and off, and our players wear them for every practice,” Anderson explained.
And even though the team will have to plan a new practice schedule, the coach supports the decision.
“Studies show anytime you can limit contact to the head you can decrease concussions, so I understand where it's coming from and I do think it's a good situation,” he said.