High school football rule proposal limits full contact hitting - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

High school football rule proposal limits full contact hitting

STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -- A move is underway that's designed to make Wisconsin high school football safer for players.

The WIAA Board of Control will vote Thursday on rules to scale back full contact in practices.

WIAA officials say the proposed changes would put a weekly time limit on live hitting during practice.

"For the third week and beyond the rest of the season, then they're only going to have 60 minutes of that," said Wade Labecki, the WIAA's deputy director.

Coaches say many teams already limit full-contact drills during practice.

"It's not a bad thing if it's under control, if they've been properly taught the proper techniques," Labecki said.

WIAA officials hope that coaches will devote more time to the fundamentals of blocking and tackling.

"Most of our injuries do happen during practice," said Labecki. "That's been studied, that's been proven, so if we can reduce some of that contact, hopefully we can reduce some of the injuries."

D.C. Everest football coach Luke Coenen says this would be an unnecessary step because he rarely lets his team fully tackle anyway.

"Injuries occur when people go to the ground so we really avoid that," he said.

The WIAA knows many coaches take similar approaches.

"I don't believe we have coaches in the state of Wisconsin who hit live for 60 minutes in any week," Labecki said. "I just don't think we have that so it's not going to affect a lot of our programs."

Some trainers are unconvinced that contact limits in practice will make a difference.

"Once a year someone sustains a concussion during a practice," said Brett Schulz, an athletic trainer at Weston Sport & Spine. "It's game time when that speed is increased."

Schulz says injuries can happen any time.

"You're going to sustain a blow at one point where you're not in the most perfect position," he said.

WIAA officials say the proposed changes are about minimizing risk.

"We wanted to be able to get out in front of this proactively with our coaches and our doctors," said Labecki.

The Thursday vote will decide whether to put the proposed rules in place for this season.
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