NCHSAA Football Practice Guidelines

The following guidelines must be adhered to by all NCHSAA member schools.

In addition, each member school should check with their LEA to determine if additional guidelines are mandated by the school system. Each LEA must have a policy in place regarding lightning and all emergency situations.

1. Days 1, 2, & 3 of official practice (beginning July 31st, 2006)

  • Only one practice per day is allowed.
  • Helmets, shorts, t-shirts and football shoes constitute acceptable dress.
  • On-the-field practice is limited to 2 hours per day. Stretching, calisthenics, chalk sessions, film review, can be conducted in addition to the two hours of on-the-field practice. 

Days 4, 5, & 6 of official practice

  • Only one practice per day is allowed.
  • Helmets, shoulder pads, shorts, t-shirts and football shoes constitute acceptable dress.
  • On-the-field practice is limited to 2 hours per day. Stretching, calisthenics, chalk sessions, film review, can be conducted in addition to the two hours of on-the-field practice.

2. After completion of 6 full days of practice and beginning on the 7th day: 

  • Complete uniforms may be worn.
  • Body-to-body contact may begin.
  • A second daily practice may be conducted. During this 2nd practice helmets, shoulder pads, shorts, t-shirts and football shoes constitute acceptable dress.
  • Body-to-body contact is only allowed during one session on any given day.

Guidelines that apply to Parts 1 & 2 above:

  • LEAs may adopt guidelines that are more restrictive than any of those established by the NCHSAA. And at any time, an LEA may suspend practice, or dictate starting time/length.
  • When scheduling practice, factors such as time of day, intensity of practice, equipment worn and environmental conditions should be considered.
  • Water should be made available in unlimited amounts and at any time during practice.
  • Designated breaks should be scheduled during practice.
  • Precautions must be taken to prevent heat-related problems. A recommended heat and humidity table can be found on the NCHSAA website, nchsaa.org, under general football information. 
  • All schools must be in compliance with State law (16 NCAC 6E .0203 as published in 16 NCR 19:2067) which dictates that each LEA must designate to each high school within its jurisdiction either a licensed athletic trainer or first responder. The law further mandates that this individual MUST attend all football practices and games, unless excused by the superintendent due to emergency and may not have coaching responsibilities during the season in which the person is working as a licensed athletic trainer or first responder. Any questions concerning this policy should be addressed to the State Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh, 919-807-3858. 

3. Required Practice prior to scrimmaging:
A player shall have participated in at least nine (9) SEPARATE days of team practice, three of which MUST be in pads AND include body-to-body contact, before participating in a football contest or scrimmage with outside competition. The ONLY exception to this rule is an athlete who participates in another sport and only participates as a kicker in football. Summer boot camp or military training, or participation in an outside league/summer team during the summer are not exceptions.

NOTE: This rule may also affect the scheduling of scrimmages. If a team has a scrimmage scheduled on the 10th day, but is unable to practice at least nine (9) SEPARATE days, including three in pads with body-to-body contact, that team will not be able to scrimmage on the 10th day. This may occur if an LEA suspends practice altogether or mandates that only t-shirts/shorts can be worn preventing a team from having the required number of days in pads with body-to-body contact.

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