Kevin Cokely, NBC 5 News
Schools across Texas are following new regulations aimed as keeping players safe in the scorching Texas heat.
August in Texas is hot, and it's been that way since long before football helmets had face masks.
Managing that heat is one of the primary concerns of the coaching and training staffs at high schools all across the Lone Star State, with preseason practice beginning this week.
New rules set by the Texas University Interscholastic League, or UIL, now prohibit two-a-days during the first four days of practice.
Teams can, however, have an additional walk-though without contact equipment.
"I think anything that helps our children perform better and protect them from heat-related illnesses is a good thing, said coach Marcus Gates at James Madison High School in Dallas.
Additionally, players must get two hours of rest between practices, rather than just the previously standard hour.
The new regulations closely follow recommendations prescribed by the Dallas-based National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
"[We've] had a real spike in heat related deaths here these last couple years, and they're totally preventable," says the NATA’s Brian Conway, “and by taking the necessary steps, we're keeping our kids safe."
Seven states, including Texas, now follow the NATA’s recommendations.
“Allowing the kids to get acclimatized, get used to the heat, and helps the coaches and athletic trainers make good decisions to keep our kids safe," Conway said.
The new rules are designed to further reduce heat-related injuries, which typically occur in the first week of practice and during the second workout of the day.
"I think it takes they say about 7 to 14 days to really acclimate, so really you want to be careful in that first little window," said Bill Borowski, director of Athletic Training Services at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas.
In addition to the new regulations, coaches give the players frequent breaks in the heat of summer.
"Lot of water breaks, give them an opportunity to rest. We have a buddy system as well we have kids to watch other kids to make sure that they're not getting too tired," Gates said.
The Dallas Independent School District also limits practice to first thing in the morning, or after 6 p.m. at night.
Typically an evening practice will now consist of conditioning inside of a gym, weightlifting or studying of plays and strategy.