Best Practices

June 28, 2016

Two-thirds of concussions reported in Michigan high school football last fall occurred in games. Even though there are at least five times more hours of exposure during practices than games, there are half as many concussions during practice, according to the mandated concussion reporting requirement of the Michigan High School Athletic Association that is unmatched in the country in terms of its depth and breadth for a statewide requirement.

Michigan was among the handful of states to restrict contact in practice, in 2014, a full season prior to recommendations from the National Federation of State High School Associations and later action by most other statewide associations.

Some of those statewide organizations continue to operate without limitation on contact in football practices, while their counterpart organizations in other states have gone so far as to limit contact to a certain number of minutes in a day and/or week.

Entering mostly uncharted waters for high school football in early 2014, an MHSAA task force recommended that the number of practices be limited where collisions between players could occur – no more than one per day during preseason, no more than two per week after the first game.

This change was embraced by this state’s football coaches association and adopted by the MHSAA Representative Council. All parties liked the ease of administration of this policy, and all distrusted the idea of limiting the number of minutes of contact during practices.

If there is a 30-minute limit on contact in a day or a 90-minute limit on contact in a week, is it the same 30-minute or 90-minute period for all players, even if many are not involved in one or more of the contact drills? Or does the limit apply to each player individually; and if so, how is that tracked, and by whom?

These and other questions made coaches and administrators question how effective a limit on minutes might really be. Nevertheless, a 90-minute per week limit during regular season has been made an MHSAA recommendation for the 2016 season. This will provide an opportunity to address and possibly answer some of the questions that have been raised.

The MHSAA will survey schools this fall about their practice plans and the actual time spent in contact drills by players, assessing how that differs according to offense, defense, player position and grade in school, and determining best practices for how to track player contact minutes.

When Michigan acted in 2014 to limit contact in practice, it was one of the first states to do so. As Michigan takes additional steps to limit contact in practice, it will be one of the first states to do so after researching the best ways to actually do it.

MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 27, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.