Coach Pilcher OK with new practice rules

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bainbridge High School Bearcats head football coach Ed Pilcher is comfortable with the Georgia High School Asssociation’s new rules regarding practice sessions in the summer heat.

“Myself and other high school coaches throughout the state met with University of Georgia researchers in January in Athens,” Pilcher said. “Their research showed that heat illness rates are highest in our part of the country. We had two Georgia high school players die from heat-related incidents last year, and that is two too many.

“Another part of the new rules we will have to comply with is to have a cool area on our practice field. There is currently no shade on our practice field. We will probably have to put in some fans, but there will definitely be a cool area our players can go to during breaks.”

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The Georgia High School Association is banning three-a-day football practices and requiring that players go through five practices in only helmets, shirts and shorts, before going in full pads on August 1.

The new rules also require that two-a-day practices cannot occur on consecutive days, or exceed five hours in a single day. Practicing in pads is limited to three hours a day.

Researchers found that heat related deaths among football players across the country tripled to nearly three per year between 1994 and 2009. This jump occured after averaging one death per year the previous 15 years.

Pilcher said the Bainbridge coaches work hard to make sure that the students stay hydrated during practice.

“During our annual football camp, we hydrate the players with Gatorade and other liquids between practices and during breaks to keep them hydrated,” he said. “We are fortunate to have a certified athletic trainer like Chris Summers on our staff. He does an outstanding job of monitoring and caring for our players.”