New safety guidelines in place for high school football as players begin practice

(WXYZ) - High schools across the state kicked off football practice to get ready for the upcoming season. In line with the practices that started, there are new guidelines aimed at making football practice safer for our student athletes.

For example, the Michigan High School Athletic Association says single practice sessions can now only be 3 hours, in the past they could’ve been much longer. Two-a-day practices are now limited to five hours.

With preseason practice comes the need for coaches to see how their players will hit when they’re on the field and that too has changed. Teams across the state aren’t allowed to start hitting until this Friday. In years past, they were able to start hitting practice on Wednesday.

Troy High School football coach Gary Griffith says if he has hit practices more he could risk losing players. Already this year his team numbers are down and he says that’s in large part to the rising costs of athletics in schools and bears no significance on hit practices.

"I'm not going to tell you there weren't times we didn't hit more often but our numbers are down a little bit,” Coach griffith said.

These new rules come as part of an all-out effort to cut down on injuries, especially concussions.

Senior Captain Jonathan Hornsby is well aware of the injuries sustained while playing football. He’s played for years and as a senior on the varsity team he says it comes down to how the coaches teach and the reality that injuries are a part of the game.

"We get injured, it's football it's a collision sport that's just kind of the nature of the game,” Hornsby said. “You're going to get hurt, but as concussions go I think we've prevented them as much as we can."

Coaches have also been working to limit the number of concussions.

“Our kids have watched videos of concussions, the symptoms of concussions, how you can hopefully avoid concussions, the hits that will give you a concussion so there's no question they're much more knowledgeable now."

He says he tells his players all the time, "The emphasis is on eyes open see the contact slide your head the emphasis is on contact with your shoulder and your chest."

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