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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Michigan Reduces Practice Contact

Player-on-player contact among Michigan high school football players was reduced Monday by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA).

The Representative Council approved an MHSAA Football Committee proposal which was developed in partnership with MHSAA staff, the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) and Practice Like Pros.  It mandates the following limits on practice-field contact:               

  • Full contact in-season will be reduced from 90 minutes per week to 30.

  • Full contact during pre-season will be reduced from 3 hours per day plus scrimmages to 6 hours total per week including scrimmages.

  • No change was made in the existing ban on full contact in spring/ summer.

Also adopted was the definition of full contact used at upper levels of the game, i.e., full contact is full pads, full speed, taking players to the ground.  “Thud” practice/drills, in which players engage above the waist but do not go to the ground, are not considered full contact.

Michigan thus becomes the second state, following New Jersey, to embrace the philosophy of Practice Like Pros.

MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said, “This is a tremendous example of the high school football stakeholders in our state coming together to update practice contact regulations that will help Michigan coaches be among the most progressive in the nation.  While many of our programs and coaches were already using these techniques and limits locally, formalizing these practice contact limits within new definitions will only help more coaches statewide as we continue to teach today's game of football the right way while keeping it as safe as possible.  This happened because of the tremendous partnership among the MHSFCA, Practice Like Pros and the MHSAA." 

Practice Like Pros founder Terry O’Neil said, “Thanks and congratulations to the MHSAA and MHSFCA.  Michigan’s bold move is a signal to the dozen-or-so other states presently considering contact reduction.”

The discussion of practice-field standards had been ongoing for several years within the Michigan football community. 

It gained important momentum November 30, 2018, in Traverse City when the MHSFCA Board of Directors voted its support following a presentation by O'Neil.

On January 17, 2019, a formal recommendation began to take shape in a meeting of the MHSAA, MHSFCA and Practice Like Pros leadership teams.  The proposal was approved January 24 by the MHSAA Football Committee and later endorsed by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA).

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