Football practice begins

As Catawba County football teams start football practices Saturday, coaches and trainers will follow new rules the N. C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) implemented to help athletes combat the heat.

These new guidelines go along with standard guidance offered by coaches throughout the county.

Newton-Conover football coach Nick Bazzle gives his players a number of different tips, including telling them to drink a lot of Gatorade and eat three meals a day. That, he said, will help his players’ hydration and strength.

"We have to be extra cautious," Bazzle said. "The thing we do is try to make water available to our players at any time they want it,” he said.

“It isn't like the old days when coaches used to say that players couldn't have water because it made them weak."

In May, the NCHSAA moved the annual start of football practices from the traditional date of Aug. 1 to July 30.

The organization also implemented more guidelines suggested by the Sports Medicine Committee to protect players from the heat. On the first day of practice, players are only allowed to wear helmets, shorts, T-shirts and football shoes/cleats, according to the NCHSAA.

After the second day of practice, shoulder pads can be added, but no contact can take place between players until the fifth day.

Practice is limited to three hours, including one hour that is optional for a walk-through period. Following those practice hours, a mandated three-hour period allows players to cool down from the practice and walkthrough. This period requires players to avoid physical activities, which include lifting weights, running or participating in any football drills.

Following this cool-down period, coaches can resume practicing, in "two-a-day" fashion, but the time players practice cannot go more than five hours in a single day. Coaches are also not allowed to have "two-a-day" practices on back-to-back days, according to the NCHSAA.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it is recommended that 17 ounces of fluid be consumed by any person two hours before exercise, which helps provide adequate hydration.

As they exercise, athletes should drink early and at regular intervals in order to replace the fluids that are being lost to sweat.

Weather next week is expected to be anywhere from the high 80s to low 90s from Monday through Thursday, according to the Weather Channel's website,

Open practice times

Bandys: Saturday, 9 a.m.
Bunker Hill: Saturday, 9 a.m.
Fred T. Foard: Saturday, 12:01 a.m.
Maiden: Saturday, 9 a.m.
Newton-Conover, Saturday, 6 p.m.
St. Stephens: Saturday, 9 a.m.