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BCSSFA SAFETY COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS TO MEMBERSHIP

The safety committee has proposed recommendations and guidelines based on National Federation of State High School Association’s (NFHS) document “Recommendations and Guidelines for Minimizing Head Impact Exposure and Concussion Risk in Football.”

Items 7 and 8 from the NFHS document are essentially in place. Members are to be reminded that the following items are rules not recommendations:

1)      Each team must have a qualified medical person on the sideline (not the Head Coach) to deal with injuries. (minimum Sport Med BC certification)

2)      Return to play protocol “Think First” from Parachute Canada (through NCCP) must be followed. This is part of the coach certification process.

3)      Coaches are to be “Safe Contact” certified.

4)      Parents and players are to sign and submit the BCSSFA Concussion Information Sheets prior to beginning practices every season.

Based on the recommended guidelines, the committee agrees that there are multiple contributing factors that affect head impact exposure and the parallel effects on the individual football player’s brain. For example, factors include:

·         Position played

·         Two-way players versus those who only play offense or defense

·         Techniques taught (should become standardized through safe contact certification)

·         Practice frequency and duration

·         Players that compete at multiple levels (ex. JV and SV)

·         Concussion history and predisposition to concussion

·         Number of players on the team (fewer players can mean more reps)

 

For the purpose of this document, the following “Levels of Contact” will be used. ‘Thud’ and ‘Live’ will be considered full contact. There are no recommended limitations placed on the first three levels.

 

1)      Air – players run drills unopposed with no contact.

2)      Bags – players run drills against bags or another soft contact surface.

3)      Control – drill is run at an assigned speed until the point of contact. Winner is pre-determined by the coach. Contact is above the waist only and players stay on their feet. (e.g. Coach declares RB winner – defense engages offense (steps to position) then pursues to point of contact but allows runner to keep running. If the coach declares defense the winner, runner stops when defensive player is in position to tackle).

4)      Thud – drill is run at assigned speed (including full speed) through the moment of contact; no predetermined winner. Contact remains above the waist, players stay on their feet and a quick whistle ends the drill.

5)      Live – drill is run in game-like conditions. This is the only level where players go to ground.

 

Recommendation #1 (Based on NFHS Recommendations #1 and #2)

Once the regular season begins, full contact will be limited to no more than 3 practices per week. Full contact should also be limited to no more than 30 minutes in one day and no more than 90 minutes per week. Full contact is defined as “Thud” and “Live.”

Rationale: High school risk of injury data suggests that organizations that limit contact time in practice have seen a statistically significant decrease in concussion rates during practices, with no increase in concussion or other injuries during games.

 

Recommendation #2 (Based on NFHS Recommendation #3)

Pre-season practices (spring and fall camps) may include more full-contact time than practices occurring later in the regular season, to allow for teaching the fundamentals with sufficient repetition. 

A. Pre-season acclimatization protocols and regulations regarding heat and hydration take precedent and should always be followed. 

B. While total full-contact practice days and time limitations may be increased during the pre-season, emphasis should be on the proper ‎principles of tackling and blocking during the first several practices, before progressing to "Thud" or "Live Contact". 

Rationale: It is acknowledged that regular season practice limitations may need to be revised during the pre-season. This should be done in a specific and systematic manner to allow coaches to spend sufficient time teaching the fundamentals of proper tackling and blocking techniques for all players, regardless of experience.

Particular emphasis should be placed upon inexperienced players. Those who are inexperienced or new to the game of football should slowly progress through tackling and blocking progressions with multiple reps and close supervision from coaches using “Air”, “Bags” and “Control” according to the NFHS definitions of contact.

** As a reminder, it is highly recommended that every player participate in a minimum of 8 practices prior to participating in game action. **

 

Recommendation #3 (Based on NFHS Recommendation #4)

During pre-season, twice-daily practices, only one session per day should include full contact. It is recommended by the BCSSFA safety committee that the non-contact practice be non-padded (helmets only).

Rationale: The adolescent brain needs sufficient recovery time following full-contact practices. In addition, concussion signs and/or symptom may not develop for several hours after the initial injury.

 

Recommendation #4 (Based on NFHS Recommendation #5)

Coaches should limit play time to no more than 6 quarters per week in the schedule (e.g. week #1 in the season refers to the games that take place in the first week of the schedule). A player playing offense or defense only would be considered as playing one half of a quarter.

Example: If a player plays offense and defense for an entire JV game, that player should only play either offense or defense in the SV game that week (not both ways). Coaches need to consider further limiting contact time in practice for players that approach or reach the recommended limit. Coaches should limit these situations as much as possible. Six quarters as defined above refers to the absolute maximum a player would play in a week. Coaches should limit the number of times these situations happen during a season of play.

Rationale: Risk of Injury data shows that competition presents the highest risk for concussion. Players playing at multiple levels during a single week are at an increased risk for head injury. Consideration should be given to moderating these situations as much as possible.

 

Recommendation #5 (Based on NFHS Recommendation #9)

An emergency action plan (EAP) with clearly defined written and practiced protocols should be developed and in place at every member school. See a sample of a NFHS EAP here.

 

Rationale: An effective EAP should be in place, as prompt and appropriate response to any emergency situation can save a life. The EAP should be designed and practiced to address all teams (grade 8, JV, SV) and all practice and practice and game sites. A designated first aid person or qualified medical person is a key component in any strategy to minimize injury risk and optimize safety for all participants. This is part of the Sport Med BC training.

 

 

 

Recommendation #6 (Based on NFHS Recommendation #6)

 

Coaches should not allow players to play both High School Football and Community Football during the fall contact season of play.

 

Rationale: Many high school programs already have policies in place which do not allow players to play community football during the fall season of play. Playing both high school and community football leads to potentially more than doubling the number of practices, games and exposure to uncontrolled contact, along with to two-a-day practices, multiple times per week, over the course of a full season. Practices with another football program remain unmonitored by the high school coach and communication between programs in most cases is non-existent. Doubling up on games and practice time makes recommendations 1-4 moot. It makes no sense to recommend contact limits, then allow players to play for another football program during the fall contact season of play.

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