With the fall sports practice season about to begin, the Florida High School Athletic Association wants to reminded the public of new standards put in place to safeguard the health and well-being of student-athletes.
Pre-season practices officially began Monday for student-athletes competing for their schools in football, golf, swimming/diving and girls volleyball, and new procedures are in place to protect the youths from the heat, inadequate hydration and concussions, according to a news release:
“For coaches, parents and everyone else associated with high school athletics, nothing is more important the safety of the students,” said FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing. “At the FHSAA, we are committed to making sure our members understand what they must do to ensure that competitors have safe, enjoyable experiences as high school athletes.”
The FHSAA’s Board of Directors adopted new heat-related policies in June, designed to ensure that young athletes drink plenty of water and do not practice too many hours each week.
Under the new policies, schools must:
- Limit weekly practice time to 18 hours during the first two weeks of practice, to allow student-athletes to adapt to conditions
- Ensure that for every 30 minutes of practice, student-athletes get a minimum five-minute rest and hydration break
- Require unrestricted access to water for student-athletes at all times
- Require coaches and others in authority to never deny a student-athlete access to water if requested.
According to the release, the FHSAA also adopted a new concussion and heat-related illness form intended to create safety awareness among students and their caretakers by explaining the risks and symptoms associated with each problem.
A concussion action plan developed by the FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Subcommittee and adopted by the Board requires that:
- Any student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion – such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems – must be immediate removed from the competition and cannot return to play until he or she is cleared by an appropriate health care professional.
- All head coaches and other paid coaches are required to view an online education course about concussions.
The FHSAA also developed a new consent form related to concussions and heat-related illness to ensure that parents understand the conditions and the rules that apply to them.