FORT WORTH –– The first day of practice for fall sports began Monday morning at schools across North Texas. As student athletes took to the field at Arlington Heights High School, they did so under new UIL rules.
Last year, the organization adopted changes that included a prohibition on two-a-day practice sessions in the first four days of conditioning. Rule changes also include a limit on game-speed practices with pads and full contact to 90 minutes per week.
Arlington Heights head coach Phil Young says the rules are strict.
"And that's good for us. It keeps everybody on their toes," he said. "The boys that haven't done much this summer, we have to find out quickly which kids are out of shape and which kids are in shape. Whether you're in shape or not you have to stay hydrated."
The new UIL rules were put in place to prevent concussions, serious injuries, and heat-related illnesses among student athletes. Some in published reports have criticized the new rules and questioned their effectiveness.
Young told News 8 that much has changed in the time he has coached kids.
"In the old days, water was the four letter word. You need water? Just get back out there and play. That's not reality now. These kids are under a tremendous amount of strain and stress with the heat and they have to learn how to cool their bodies,” Young said. “And we as adults have to monitor them closely.”
On his team, he has coaches, trainers and student trainers looking for any sign that an athlete is in trouble. As the season ramps up, the staff is telling players to stay hydrated.
The new UIL rules went into effect August 1 and impact 4A and 5A schools.