Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Decreased football practice time shouldn’t affect play in opening week
Fall football practice began Monday like it always has, with no pads, no hitting and a lot of sweating on a typical dog day of summer. But when the first practice ended, there wasn’t another practice for players to look forward to — or dread.
Two-a-day practices, a longtime staple for many area football programs, are now forbidden by the University Interscholastic League on the first four days of practice.
Each practice can be up to three hours long, however. And in addition to the practice, there can be weight training, film study, meetings with coaches and a walk through with no helmets or contact. So it wasn’t a short day of football for players at 4A and 5A schools who began practice Monday. (Schools in Class 1A-3A, along with 4A and 5A schools that didn’t have spring practice, started a week earlier).
Still, the new rules will cut back on practice time, which for coaches is never enough. That’s especially true for those preparing for Zero Week games that are less than three weeks away. And there are some big matchups that week, including DeSoto taking on Arlington Martin, Euless Trinity traveling to play Bellevue (Wash.) and Southlake Carroll and Allen opening the new 18,000-seat Eagle Stadium.
So will the decreased practice time have much of an effect in the opening week?
The high school football player of today is very different than 20 years ago, and even 10 years ago. Most players do conditioning work year-round, and the UIL has made it easier by giving 7-on-7 its blessing and allowing coaches to oversee summer weight training and conditioning programs.
Many players used to show up at the first practices prepared for intense conditioning workouts that would get them in shape. Now most players aren’t ready to drop after a few wind sprints. They’re ready to learn.