New WIAA Rules limit tackling in football practice

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Changes are on the way for high school football players. Thursday the WIAA voted to scale back on full contact in practices this upcoming season to cut down on injuries and concussions.

Up until now there were no restrictions on how long coaches could allow players to have full contact in practices, but new rules passed Thursday afternoon will limit hard hits to just one hour per week.

“It was felt that because this rule change meant risk minimization it needed to go in effect as soon as possible,” WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki said.

Labecki says the new rules do not allow full contact during the first week of practice. During the second week of practice live contact will be limited to 75 minutes for the week. That limit drops down to 60 minutes a week during the third week of practice and continues throughout the rest of the season.

“Over three days that’s 20 minutes at full speed not many coaches do that because you don’t want to lose your kids in practice,” he explained.

Osseo-Fairchild head coach Eric Boettcher says the new rules will change the way he lays out his practices, but for the most part the district already limits full contact drills.

“Traditionally with our school size we really cannot afford to have players hurt because of what we are doing during a practice,” Boettcher explained.

Boettcher says concussions and injuries on the team vary from year to year and improvements in helmet design have made a difference in reducing that number. With the new changes he hopes to see that number drop even more.

“The bottom line is we want to play Friday night,” he said.

The WIAA says the rules will be in effect starting in August when many teams begin their first practices.

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