By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Chris Griffin has been the head coach at Flowery Branch (Ga.) for four years, the most recent being the first in which his full-contact practice time was limited by the Georgia High School Association. The new GHSA rules, which went into effect last fall, limited full contact to 45 minutes per day and 135 minutes per week in preseason and then only 30 minutes per day and 90 per week in the regular season. Practices with full-contact drills could not take place over three consecutive days.
“At first, I panicked a little bit when I heard the new rules,” Griffin said. “The hardest part was the preseason. There’s so much time without a game, and you really want to utilize every second of the allotted contact time.”
Flowery Branch had 77 players on its varsity roster last season. With 135 minutes of full-contact practice time during the preseason and only 90 minutes in-season, the players at the bottom of the depth chart had fewer opportunities to get reps.
“If you have an hour of full-contact during the preseason, 30 kids are going to get most of the reps,” Griffin said. “You want the guys who are going to be playing on Friday night to get the full-contact reps. Some kids may only get three or four reps during that 60-minute block.”
Griffin said the key is to divide the coaching staff and conquer. His assistants set up live contact periods in different sections of the field so that all players could get reps.
When Flowery Branch started a full-contact period at practice, everyone was on the same page. The scoreboard clock started counting down so that the players could see how much time remained.
The coaches carried horns to alert players when to switch drills. And when the horns sounded, the players sprinted from station to station.
“Typically, we ask them to get to the next drill on a dead sprint,” Griffin said. “If it’s not your rep, get a sip of water when you can. We’ll maximize the time by making sure everyone’s hydrated beforehand so they can get as many reps as possible.”
After practice was over, Griffin tracked the exact minutes of live periods and submitted the paperwork to his athletic director for approval.
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