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SEC Football Practice Rule Changes

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Pic by USA Today

The Southeastern Conference will adopt football practice recommendations by the NCAA Sports Science Institute which will impact preseason, in-season, post-season, and spring practice. The proposals received unanimous support of the SEC Athletics Directors and the league’s Presidents and Chancellors.

What does this mean?

Not a lot other than UK may start fall camp earlier than expected to meet the new requirements. Kentucky had proactively adjusted its practice routines to meet this pending announcement.

*Please note that “THUD” references a form of tackling in which contact is made but the ball carrier is not taken to the ground.

See rule changes below:

Preseason (Fall Camp) Practice Recommendations

Two-a-day practices are not recommended.  A second session of no helmet/pad activity may include walk-throughs or meetings; conditioning in the second session of activity is not allowed.

The preseason may be extended by one week in the calendar year to accommodate the lost practice time from elimination of two-a-days, and to help ensure that players obtain the necessary skill set for competitive play.

In any given seven days following the five-day acclimation period:

  • Up to three days of practice can be live contact (tackling or thud).
  • There should be a minimum of three non-contact/minimal contact practices in a given week.
  • A non-contact/minimal contact practice should follow a scrimmage.
  • One day should be no football practice.

Difference from the 2014 guidelines:

  1. Recommendation to discontinue two-a-day practices.
  2. Recommendation to allow an extension of the preseason by one week. This requires a legislative change if the pre-season begins one week earlier.
  3. Recommendation to reduce weekly live contact practices from four to three.
  4. Non-contact/minimal contact practice recommendations have been added.
  5. Non-contact/minimal contact practice recommendation the day following a scrimmage has been added.
  6. One day of no football practice recommendation has been added.
  7. Legislation 17.10.2.1. would need to be updated if the pre-season practice time begins one week earlier.

In Season Practice Recommendations

“In season” is defined as the period between six days prior to the first regular-season game and the final regular-season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions).  In any given week:

  • Three days of practice should be non-contact/minimal contact.
  • One day of live contact/tackling should be allowed.
  • One day of live contact/thud should be allowed.

Difference from the 2014 guidelines:

  1. Recommendation to no longer allow two live contact/tackling days per week.
  2. Non-contact/minimal contact recommendations have been added.

Postseason Practice Recommendations

  • If there is a two week or less period of time between the final regular season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions) and the next bowl or postseason game, then in-season practice recommendations should remain in place.
  • If there is greater than two weeks between the final regular season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions) and the next bowl or postseason game, then:
    • Up to three days may be live-contact (two of which should be live contact/thud).
    • There must be three non-contact/minimal contact practices in a given week.
    • The day preceding and following live contact/tackling should be non-contact/minimal contact or no football practice.
    • One day must be no football practice.

Difference from the 2014 guidelines: 

  1. Current guidelines do not differentiate postseason/bowl practice from inseason practice.

Spring Practice Recommendations

Of the 15 allowable sessions that may occur during the spring practice season, eight practices may involve live contact (tackling or thud); three of these live contact practices may include greater than 50 percent live contact (scrimmages).  Live contact practices should be limited to two in a given week and should not occur on consecutive days.  The day following live scrimmage should be non-contact/minimal contact.

Difference from the 2014 guidelines:

  1. Non-contact/minimal contact practice recommendation the day following live scrimmage.

While I’m not for over-regulating individual coach’s decisions on how to prepare their teams for competition, I understand the need for these rule changes. Protecting and monitoring player health/wellbeing should be paramount in all that are involved in the game.

Kentucky opens at Southern Miss on September 2. By the conference accepting new regulatory practice guidance, UK’s start of fall camp may occur sometime near the last week of August. More to follow…

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President