LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – The WIAA Board of Control unanimously agreed, 10-0, to change football practice rules to help reduce injuries, by limiting “thud” and “live” contact during practice.
The new rules will be effective immediately, to practice settings only, as follows:
1st Week of Season: No “Thud” or “Live” contact
2nd Week: “Thud” and “Live” contact will be allowed for 75 minutes per week
3rd Week through Remainder of Season: “Thud” and “Live” contact reduced to 60 minutes/week
“Live” contact is when players tackle each other to the ground, while “Thud” contact is chest-to-chest contact (blocking).
Aquinas Head Football Coach Tom Lee said the new rules are “great” for Wisconsin High School Football, and the changes aren't surprising.
“For our staff, we've talked about it, we've met on it, and we really don't think we have to change a whole lot. Anything you can do to make the sport safe and make sure that young kids and parents of young kids aren't getting scared off by the game, it's a good thing,” Lee said.
Lee, who has served as a coach at the school for eight years, said his players rarely tackle. “This is not the old days of football where you are putting guys on the ground all the time. I think most coaches are trying to keep guys healthy and ready for Friday nights,” Lee said.
Lee said reducing thud and live contact (blocking and tackling) in practice won't be a problem, because that hasn't always been the best way to teach kids proper tackling form.
“Most of football is leverage anyhow so if you get yourself in the right spot, you can tackle a guy,” Lee said.
WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki said he feels the new rule changes are the “strongest in the country”.
“We want to be a leader, like we usually are, in sports medicine and hopefully it'll trickle down to youth football,” Labecki said.
Labecki said despite consistent injury scares in football, he said he believes it is a safe sport.
“There is risk in football, but there is risk in all sports and we're doing as much as we can to reduce that risk,” Labecki said.
Labecki said he doesn't see many challenges with the new rules, as it only creates greater awareness for safety in football.
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