Preseason changes: New ISHA rules cause confusion and frustration


Garrison Sloan, Staff Writer

This year, new state-mandated rules went into effect putting new regulations on the practice schedules of all high school teams, and have caused a large amount of frustration, specifically for the football team. Many athletes, including myself, felt like we didn’t get enough practice time in before teams had their first games. Meanwhile, the athletic staff had the difficult job of rescheduling practices and games, as the new rules were implemented just months before the start of the season.


It is important to note that these rules were put in place for a reason. The IHSA implemented these regulations as a heat acclimatization policy, due to an alarming number of heat-related deaths nationwide during schools’ preseasons. 


The new IHSA rules, which apply to all sports, limit teams to a single, 3 hour practice and/or lift session for the first 6 days of their season. After that, teams are only allowed a walkthrough period in the afternoon, where athletes were prohibited from raising their heart rates and from even using a ball. The football team, which in previous years was able to get in 10-12 physical practices a week during preseason, could now only do half of that.


The frustration over the new changes extends to the athletic department staff as well. When talking to athletic director Darrin Madeley stated that that the main issue he has with the new changes was how quickly they were implemented. 


“I don’t disagree with the changes,” said Madeley. “But I do disagree with the process. The IHSA decided to change their policy for preseason in June. This created a problem for us as a boarding school, as we had to scramble to adjust the schedule over the summer to coordinate with the arrival of the boarding students. However, I do fully support the changes to the amount of time our athletes spend on the field.” 


For my sport, football, the changes hit us particularly hard. In previous years, football was able to do 2 practices a day throughout preseason, resulting in around us getting around 30 practices in total. This year however, due to the new practice regulations we only got in 18 practices before our first game. Due to this, many of us didn’t think we were physically prepared. While we did end up with a similar 1-1 start as last year, morale definitely took a hit.  


Scheduling was a major issue, specifically for soccer and field hockey. Since the games for both sports had already been scheduled before the IHSA changes, they were forced to come out for practice several days early in order to get enough practices to be eligible for their first game. Eventually, soccer’s first game had to be cancelled. 


With the new rules being introduced so quickly, many athletes and athletic staff members have been caught off guard. Thankfully, next year this won’t be an issue, as teams will have ample to prepare, now that we know the new regulations.