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New Mandates for Protecting Student Athletes

The rules underscore the need for students to drink plenty of water and to be immediately pulled from play if they show signs of head injury.

Student athletes in Florida must have unrestricted access to water during workouts. Any student who shows signs of a possible concussion playing school sports must be immediately pulled from the game.

These are some of the new rules that the state High School Athletic Association will be enforcing as the fall sports practice season kicks off.

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) reminded schools this week of new standards to safeguard student athletes. Many of the new rules involve ensuring that students stay hydrated in the Florida heat and also are protected from the risks of associated with head injuries.

The FHSAA’s director of athletics will conduct a workshop on the new safety requirements at a compliance seminar next week.

“For coaches, parents and everyone else associated with high school athletics, nothing is more important the safety of the students,” said FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing.

“At the FHSAA, we are committed to making sure our members understand what they must do to ensure that competitors have safe, enjoyable experiences as high school athletes.”

The FHSAA’s Board of Directors adopted new heat-related policies in June, designed to ensure that young athletes drink plenty of water and do not practice too many hours each week.

Under the new policies, schools must:

  • Limit weekly practice time to 18 hours during the first two weeks of practice, to allow student-athletes to adapt to conditions;
  • Ensure that for every 30 minutes of practice, student-athletes get a minimum five-minute rest and hydration break;
  • Require unrestricted access to water for student-athletes;
  • Require coaches and others in authority to never deny a student-athlete access to water if requested.

The FHSAA also adopted a new concussion and heat-related illness form intended to create safety awareness. It explains risks and symptoms associated with each problem.

A concussion action plan requires that:

  • Any student-athlete who has symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion – including loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems – be immediately removed from the competition. The student cannot return to play until he or she is cleared by an appropriate health care professional.
  • All head coaches and other paid coaches are required to view an online education course about concussions.

The FHSAA also developed a new consent form related to concussions and heat-related illness to ensure that parents understand the conditions and the rules that apply to them.

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