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Are Two-a-Days Too Much for High School Football Players?

High school football season is just around the corner and that means teams are ramping up their practice schedule. Some high school football players might have been attending camps all summer, working on their strength and conditioning in the high school weight room, playing another summer sport to stay active and more. But once football season rolls around you can bet the local team will be up at the high school practicing for hours at a time — sometimes even twice a day.

But believe it or not, two-a-days, which many football dads can probably attest to suffering through in their youth, actually makes high school football unique these days. USA Today reported back in 2011 that;

…the NFL’s new contract with its players bans a second, full-contact practice on any one day. In college football, two-a-days were limited by the NCAA in 2003. The only place where this rite of passage is still a staple is on thousands of high school fields…

Both the NLF and NCAA have strict guidelines on the first five days of preseason football practicesThe idea is to give players time to acclimate to the heat, which can help prevent heat stroke and other heat related illnesses.  As the New York Times reported;

Any overly strenuous sessions in hot weather before athletes have had time to acclimate to an increased level of exercise can be dangerous, especially outdoors. The workouts may be more dangerous than ever because of ordinary technological advances like air-conditioning. Even athletes trying to get into shape by running on a treadmill probably do so in an air-conditioned setting.

We all know that sweating is one the main ways of bodies help regulate our core body temperature. The human body is capable of doing some amazing things but it only needs to swing a few degrees hotter or colder before our muscles and brain don’t function as well as they should. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 70 to 90 percent of the energy our bodies produce during exercise is released by heat and sweat.  However, when a high school football player is totally geared up for practice they are wearing several, heavy layers of polyester and plastic. The same gear that is designed to keep them safe actually interferes with how well their bodies can cool down. Without sufficient breaks where those players can actually remove their helmets and gear their body can only cool down so much. On extra hot days, especially when the team is running two-a-days, the situation can turn very dangerous very quickly.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association actually banned two-a-days for the 2013 season, and full contact will not be allowed until nearly a week into practice. Other football-heavy states such as Alabama, Texas, Florida and Georgia have also limited teams to only one practice per day. Heat stroke deaths among high school players in the aforementioned states have dropped noticeably in the last few years, and many believe that limiting practices to one a day is largely responsible for that.

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Issues & Advice, Athlete Health